December 2010 lunar eclipse

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Total lunar eclipse
2010/12/21 [1]
Saros (member) 125 (48)
Recent <S <T < > T> S>
Near Greatest Eclipse 20101221 0011-crop.jpg
Near Greatest eclipse (8:11 UTC)
Viewed from San Jose, California
Lunar eclipse chart close-10dec21.png
The moon passes right to left through the earth's northern shadow
Gamma[1] 0.3213
Duration (hr:mn:sc)
Totality 1:13:12
Partial 3:29:22
Penumbral 5:38:22
P1 05:27:43 UTC
U1 06:32:17 UTC
U2 07:40:21 UTC
Greatest 08:16:56 UTC
U3 08:53:34 UTC
U4 10:01:39 UTC
P4 11:06:04 UTC
Lunar eclipse chart-10dec21.png
At descending node in Taurus

The December 2010 lunar eclipse occurred from 5:27 to 11:06 UTC on December 21 2010, coinciding with the date of the December solstice. It was visible in its entirety as a total lunar eclipse in North and South America, Iceland, Ireland, Britain and northern Scandinavia.


The eclipse of December 2010 was the first total lunar eclipse in almost three years, since the February 2008 lunar eclipse.[2]

It is the second of two lunar eclipses in 2010. The first was a partial lunar eclipse on June 26, 2010.[3]

The eclipse was the first total lunar eclipse to occur on the day of the Northern Winter Solstice (Southern Summer Solstice) since 1638, and only the second in the Common Era.[4][5]

Related eclipses[edit]

This eclipse occurred at the descending node of the moon's orbit. Lunar eclipses are always paired with a solar eclipse either 2 weeks before or after at new moon in the opposite node. In this case, it was followed by a partial solar eclipse at the ascending node on January 4, 2011, visible from Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia.

The following two lunar eclipses will also be total, occurring on June 15, 2011, and December 10, 2011.

See This lunar year cycle

The next December solstice total lunar eclipse, as a Metonic twin eclipse, will be December 20, 2029 (19 years later), one day before solstice.

See This 19 year Metonic cycle

A saros series lasts for many centuries and has a similar event every 18 years and 11 days. This eclipse is the 18th of 26 total lunar eclipses in lunar saros series 125. The previous occurrence was on December 9, 1992, and the next will occur on December 31, 2028.

See This saros


Lunar eclipse from moon-10dec21.png
These simulated views of the earth from the center of the moon during the lunar eclipse show where the eclipse is visible on earth.

Visibility Lunar Eclipse 2010-12-21.png

In North America, the eclipse was visible in its entirety on December 21, 2010, from 12:27 a.m. to 6:06 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.[6] In the Central Standard Time zone and west, the eclipse began the night of December 20.[7] Observers along South America's east coast missed the late stages of the eclipse because they occurred after moon-set.[8]

Likewise much of Europe and Africa experienced moon-set while the eclipse was in progress. In Europe, only those observers in northern Scandinavia (including Iceland), Ireland and Britain could observe the entire event. For observers in eastern Asia the moon rose in eclipse. The eclipse was not visible from southern and eastern Africa, the Middle East or South Asia. In Japan and northeastern Asia, the eclipse's end was visible, with the moon rising at sunset. In the Philippines it was observable as a partial lunar eclipse just after sunset.[8]

Predictions suggested that the total eclipse may appear unusually orange or red, as a result of the eruption of Mount Merapi in Indonesia on October 26.[9]

Local times[edit]

Local times of eclipse over North America
Event HAST
Start penumbral (P1) 7:27 pm(*) 8:27 pm(*) 9:27 pm(*) 10:27 pm(*) 11:27 pm(*) 12:27 am 1:27 am
Start umbral (U1) 8:32 pm(*) 9:32 pm(*) 10:32 pm(*) 11:32 pm(*) 12:32 am 1:32 am 2:32 am
Start total (U2) 9:40 pm(*) 10:40 pm(*) 11:40 pm(*) 12:40 am 1:40 am 2:40 am 3:40 am
Greatest eclipse 10:17 pm(*) 11:17 pm(*) 12:17 am 1:17 am 2:17 am 3:17 am 4:17 am
End total (U3) 10:53 pm(*) 11:53 pm(*) 12:53 am 1:53 am 2:53 am 3:53 am 4:53 am
End umbral (U4) 12:02 am 1:02 am 2:02 am 3:02 am 4:02 am 5:02 am 6:02 am
End penumbral (P4) 1:06 am 2:06 am 3:06 am 4:06 am 5:06 am 6:06 am 7:06 am
(*) before midnight on Monday night, December 20

Photo gallery[edit]

Lunar eclipse.jpg
Progression from São Paulo, Brazil
Lunar Eclipse from Achhorage Alaska.jpg
Progression from Anchorage, Alaska
VLT Cerro Paranal Total Lunar Eclipse 21 December 2010.jpg
Panorama showing the view from the site of the VLT
Sequence from Toronto, Canada
(Sequence is in 15 minute increments, with 5 minute increments up until totality at 8:17am UTC)
Progression from Toronto, Canada
Lunar Eclipse Sequence on Winter Solstice Dec 21 2010.jpg
From Jacksonville, Florida, 8:29 UTC - 10:06 UTC
12-2010 Lunar-Eclipse.jpg
From Easton, Pennsylvania

Individual shots, sorted by time:


Related eclipse events[edit]

Lunar year series[edit]

The lunar year series repeats after 12 lunations or 354 days (Shifting back about 10 days in sequential years). Because of the date shift, the Earth's shadow will be about 11 degrees west in sequential events.

Metonic cycles (19 years)[edit]

The Metonic cycle repeats nearly exactly every 19 years and represents a Saros cycle plus one lunar year. Because it occurs on the same calendar date, the earth's shadow will be in nearly the same location relative to the background stars.

Ascending node Descending node
  1. 1991 Jun 27 - penumbral (110)
  2. 2010 Jun 26 - partial (120)
  3. 2029 Jun 26 - total (130)
  4. 2048 Jun 26 - partial (140)
  5. 2067 Jun 27 - penumbral (150)
  1. 1991 Dec 21 - partial (115)
  2. 2010 Dec 21 - total (125)
  3. 2029 Dec 20 - total (135)
  4. 2048 Dec 20 - partial (145)
Metonic lunar eclipse 1991-2067A.png Metonic lunar eclipse 1991-2048D.png

Tritos series[edit]

The tritos series repeats 31 days short of 11 years at alternating nodes. Sequential events have incremental Saros cycle indices.

This series produces 20 total eclipses between April 24, 1967 and August 1, 2167, only being partial on November 19, 2021.

Saros series[edit]

Lunar saros series 125, repeating every 18 years and 11 days, has 26 total lunar eclipses. The first was on June 17, 1704 and the last will be on March 19, 2155. The longest totality occurrence of this series (7th) was on August 22, 1812 when totality lasted one hour and 42 minutes.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gamma is the minimum distance of the Moon's shadow axis from Earth's centre in Earth radii at greatest eclipse.
  2. ^ Beatty, J. Kelly (2009-12-30). "Eclipses in 2010". Sky & Telescope. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  3. ^ "Partial Lunar Eclipse on June 26, 2010". Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  4. ^ "NASA Science News: Solstice Lunar Eclipse". 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  5. ^ "Lunar eclipse, winter solstice to coincide". 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  6. ^ "Total Lunar Eclipse of December 21, 2010". Outer Space Universe. Retrieved 3 January 2011.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  7. ^ 2010 Dec 21 chart: Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, NASA/GSFC
  8. ^ a b "What Time is the Lunar Eclipse 2010 Tonight?". City State Times. Retrieved 2010-12-21. 
  9. ^ A historic eclipse: Volcano will tint the moon in rare Dec. 21 celestial dance by Chris Roberts, El Paso Times
  10. ^ Total Eclipse of the Moon in Seattle - December 21, 2010
  11. ^ Listing of Eclipses of cycle 125

External links[edit]