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Lunar Eclipse Information

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General Info Geminids History

How can I best view the Geminids meteor shower?

If you live near a brightly lit city, drive away from the glow of city lights and toward the constellation from which the meteors will appear to radiate. For example, drive north to view the Geminids. Driving south may lead you to darker skies, but the glow will dominate the northern horizon, where Gemini rises. Perseid meteors will appear to "rain" into the atmosphere from the constellation Gemini, which rises in the northeast around 11 p.m. in mid-December.

After you've escaped the city glow, find a dark, secluded spot where oncoming car headlights will not periodically ruin your sensitive night vision. Look for state or city parks or other safe, dark sites. Once you have settled at your observing spot, lay back or position yourself so the horizon appears at the edge of your peripheral vision, with the stars and sky filling your field of view. Meteors will instantly grab your attention as they streak by.

A bright meteor may leave a ghostly glowing trail after it has passed. The technical name for this is a train - i.e. the fast moving streak is the meteor's trail and a glowing remnant of the trail is known as the meteor's train.

How do I know the sky is dark enough to see meteors?

If you can see each star of the Little Dipper, your eyes have "dark adapted," and your chosen site is probably dark enough. Under these conditions, you will see plenty of meteors. Circle December 14th on your calendar, for early that morning a moderate to possibly very strong showing of annual Geminid meteor shower is likely. The very strong display will favor those living across much of the Northern Hemisphere.  In this region, meteor rates might briefly rise to a few hundred per hour (the time frame for the most intense activity is anticipated sometime around 21:40 GMT). 

A far more modest, but still potentially enjoyable display of a few dozen Leonid meteors per hour is expected to favor North America. In the United States and Canada, eastern observers will be particularly well-positioned for maximum activity, expected sometime between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m., when the radiant of the Leonid shower will be well up in the dark southeastern sky.


Moon forecast for December 13th

First Quarter. Meteor shower gazing conditions will be nearly ideal as the moon is expected to set several hours before dawn.


Geminids meteor shower fact file

First apeared: Mid-1800's

Name origin: Appears to radiate from the constellation Gemini.

Parent: 3200 Phaethon (asteroid)

Active start date: December 7th

ZHR/Rate on peak: 120 per hour

Active end date: December 17th


Past Geminids Showers (Videos)

Geminids 1
Geminids 2
Geminids 3
General Info Geminids History

What is a lunar eclipse and why does it occur?

The moon is a rocky body that doesn’t produce any light of its own. Instead, the moon appears to shine to our eyes due to sunlight reflected by its surface. Every day we look up at the moon, it sports slightly different appearances. Sometimes it’s completely lit, or a full moon as we know it.

At times it’s not lit at all due to its illuminated side being pointed away from our planet, and we’ve come to know this as a New Moon. These changes in the appearance of the moon are known as moon phases and occur because the Moon orbits planet Earth approximately once every 29 and a half days. As the Moon encircles the planet, the altered position of the moon along with the addition of the Sun leads to daily changes in the way we see our only satellite.

A lunar eclipse can only occur during a Full Moon, and only when the Moon passes through a segment of Earth’s shadow. The shadow of the Earth is made up of two nested cone-shaped parts, the penumbra and the umbra. The penumbra, or outer shadow, is a zone where Earth blocks some of the Sun’s rays.

The umbra, or inner shadow, is a zone where Earth blocks all of the Moon’s direct sunlight. If the Moon passes through any of these shadows, we see one of two types of eclipses. A total eclipse of the moon occurs when the Moon passes through the umbral shadow. In contrast, a partial eclipse is seen if the Moon passes through only a portion on the umbra.


Recent worldwide comments

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Above are excepts of recent questions, experiences, and lunar eclipse viewing locations posted by you and others.
General Info Geminids History

Overview of the total lunar eclipse on December 21st

A marvelous astronomical event will soon be upon many of us living on Earth. Just after midnight, during the morning of December 21st, a total lunar eclipse, the last one of the year, will be visible throughout most of the world. This is the second of two lunar eclipses to occur this year, but the first total lunar eclipse since February 21, 2008.

Observers in western South America and North America will have an excellent chance to view the lunar eclipse from beginning to end since the moon will be nearly directly overheard in these locations. While some of the eclipse will be visible throughout most of the world, only those situated in western South America and North America will see the eclipse from start to finish.

Most of Africa and Europe will be experiencing moonset during the eclipse’s progression, but portions of the eclipse will be visible when the moon sets at dawn. Only Scandinavians living in the north will be able to catch the entire event in Europe.  For observers in western Asia and Australia, you will be able to see parts of the eclipse when the Moon rises at sunset.

None of the Eclipse will be visible from the Middle East, southern and eastern Africa, or southern Asia. For specifics on the status of this stunning and rare experience, locate your location below take a look at our in-depth section for more information about lunar eclipses.

How do I observe a lunar eclipse? Is it safe to gaze?

Unlike solar eclipses, all lunar eclipses are completely safe to watch without the use of special glasses or filters. All you need is your two eyes, and maybe a cup of your favorite drink to keep you warm.

A telescope or binoculars are not required to view a lunar eclipse, but these instruments may come in handy if you do use them.  A standard pair of 7x50 or 7x35 binoculars would help magnify your view, thus making the red coloration on the moon brighter and easier to see.


Moon forecast for December 21st

Full Moon. The astronomical stage is set for a rare and glorious event for many.


Times for lunar eclipse phases

P1 - Penumbral eclipse begins: 5:29 UT

U1 - Partial eclipse begins: 6:33 UT

U2 - Total eclipse begins: 7:41 UT

Greatest eclipse: 8:17 UT

U3 - Total Eclipse ends: 8:53 UT

U4 - Partial eclipse ends: 10:01 UT

P4 - Penumbral eclipse ends: 11:05 UT



Past Total Lunar Eclipse's (Videos)

Lunar Eclipse 1
Lunar Eclipse 2
Lunar Eclipse 3


Viewing locations and times to view the Lunar Eclipse meteor shower

Europe Canada United States Central America
View European countries View Canadian cities View U.S. states View the countries


Angola Botswana Ciaro Egypt

Ghana Nigeria South Africa Zimbabwe



Sydney Albury Liverpool New Castle

Orange Wollongong Lithgow Perth

Melbourne Brisbane Adelaide Darwin



Afghanistan Armenia Azerbaijan Bahrain

Bangladesh Bhutan Brunei Cambodia

China Georgia Hong Kong India

Indonesia Iran Iraq Israel

Japan Kazakhstan Korea Kuwait

Kyrgyzstan Laos Lebanon Malaysia

Maldives Mongolia Nepal Oman

Pakistan Philippines Qatar Russia

Saudi Arabia Singapore Sri Lanka Syria

Taiwan Thailand Turkey United Arab Emirates


South America

Argentina Bolivia Brazil Chile

Colombia Ecuador Falkland Islands French Guiana

Guyana Paraguay Peru Suriname

Uruguay Venezuela    


The Caribbean

Antigua and Barbuda Aruba Bahamas Barbados

Cayman Islands Cuba Dominica Dominican Republic

Grenada Guadaloupe Haiti Jamaica

Martinique Puerto Rico Saint Barthelemy Saint Kitts & Nevis

Saint Lucia Trinidad & Tobago Turks & Caicos Virgin Islands


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Sky map for Geminids 2010

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