Science/Medicine
1:12 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Lunar eclipse tonight

Update December 21st, 2:00 a.m.:

Well, I woke up... the Earth's shadow is passing over the moon right now. NASA says it'll be in full eclipse starting at 2:41 a.m. and then the shadow will start slipping off the moon at 3:53 a.m.

Welcome to the shortest day of the year! Now... time for bed.

December 20th, 1:12 p.m.

It's not as special as a solar eclipse, which happens in one spot (say in Detroit, MI) around once every several hundred years, but a lunar eclipse is still pretty cool. Even if it does happen around twice a year.

Tonight, starting around 12:30 a.m., a lunar eclipse will begin (kicking off the official winter season which begins tomorrow).

NASA says the eclipse will reach "totality" (when the Earth's shadow covers the entire moon) around 1:40 a.m. and will last for around an hour before the shadow begins to slip away again.

If you don't feel like being out in the elements, or if clouds are obscuring your view, NASA will have a live feed of the eclipse on its Website tonight.

And if you have any more questions, they also have a few more online things for you today:

Lunar experts from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will be hosting two live Web chats to discuss the eclipse. On Monday, Dec. 20 from 3-4 p.m. EST, Dr. Rob Suggs will answer your questions. Later on Dec. 20, make plans to stay "Up All Night" with astronomer Mitzi Adams at she answers your questions from midnight to 5:00 a.m. EST.

The Detroit Free Press talked with Michael Narlock, the chief astronomer at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills. When asked if he was staying up to watch the eclipse, Narlock said:

"I've seen a lot of these, and while they're interesting and fun to watch, they occur generally on average two or more a year. I sort of treat this like the Detroit Lions, they're always there next year."