Lunar Eclipse to Darken the Sky Tonight

Keep your eyes on the sky tonight.

This year’s only total lunar eclipse is going to be visible in North and Central America early Tuesday morning.

The moon is illuminated at night by the light of the sun, but during a lunar eclipse the full moon passes through the Earth’s shadow which prevents sunlight from hitting the moon to light it up. A small amount of sunlight will still manage to sneak past the shadow and give the moon an eerie appearance high in the sky.

The stages of a lunar eclipse. Photo courtesy of

This year, scientists are predicting that the moon will be a more unique reddish brown color instead of the normal orange-yellow glow.

This change is being attributed to the various volcanic eruptions around the world and the large amount of dust and pollution that has been added to the atmosphere in the past year.

From beginning to end, the whole event will last an expected 3 1/2 hours. Once the moon is completely engulfed by the shadows at 2:41 a.m., the darkness will last about 72 minutes with the best time to view the change of the sky being at 3:17 a.m. This is when the moon will be the most extravagant shades of red and copper throughout the entire night according to NASA.

This lunar eclipse is set to fall on the day of the winter solstice, December 21, the time of the year when the earth’s axis is tilted farthest from the sun. This occurrence is extremely rare, happening only once since “Year 1… and that is 1638 DEC 21,” Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory stated on NASA’s website.

Don’t miss this once-a-year happening in the sky, Penn Manor. Set your alarm clocks for 3:17 and take advantage of the first lunar eclipse falling on the day of winter solstice in 372 years.

By Cassie Funk