Lunar eclipse and winter solstice to coincide, first time since the year 1378

A similar lunar eclipse in Nov. 2003. The Moon may appear coppery red. Credit: Jim Fakatselis.

How often do you get to witness an event that has not been seen since the year 1378,  over half a millennium, 632 years ago? Of course, weather will make or break the viewing, and it appears the much of the west coast of the USA will be socked in with a significant winter storm at that time.

click to enlarge

Here’s the USA forecast for cloud cover. Blue is clearest, gray is cloud cover.

For those that can see it, the moon will likely appear as a deep coppery red, like this 2003 eclipse photo at left.

From Science @ NASA, they write: Everyone knows that “the moon on the breast of new-fallen snow gives the luster of mid-day to objects below.” That is, except during a lunar eclipse.

See for yourself on Dec. 21st, the first day of northern winter, when the full Moon passes almost dead-center through Earth’s shadow. For 72 minutes of eerie totality, an amber light will play across the snows of North America, throwing landscapes into an unusual state of ruddy shadow.

The eclipse begins on Tuesday morning, Dec. 21st, at 1:33 am EST (Monday, Dec. 20th, at 10:33 pm PST). At that time, Earth’s shadow will appear as a dark-red bite at the edge of the lunar disk. It takes about an hour for the “bite” to expand and swallow the entire Moon. Totality commences at 02:41 am EST (11:41 pm PST) and lasts for 72 minutes.

If you’re planning to dash out for only one quick look -­ it is December, after all -­ choose this moment: 03:17 am EST (17 minutes past midnight PST). That’s when the Moon will be in deepest shadow, displaying the most fantastic shades of coppery red.

Solstice Lunar Eclipse (map, 550px)

From first to last bite, the eclipse favors observers in North America. The entire event can be seen from all points on the continent. Click to view a world map of visibility circumstances. Credit: F. Espenak, NASA/GSFC.

Why red?

A quick trip to the Moon provides the answer: Imagine yourself standing on a dusty lunar plain looking up at the sky. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway. You might expect Earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it’s not. The rim of the planet is on fire! As you scan your eye around Earth’s circumference, you’re seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth’s shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb.

The moon passed through the center of the Eart...

Example: Image via Wikipedia

Back on Earth, the shadowed Moon paints newly fallen snow with unfamiliar colors–not much luster, but lots of beauty.

This lunar eclipse falls on the date of the northern winter solstice. How rare is that? Total lunar eclipses in northern winter are fairly common. There have been three of them in the past ten years alone. A lunar eclipse smack-dab on the date of the solstice, however, is unusual. Using NASA’s 5000 year catalog of lunar eclipses and JPL’s HORIZONS ephemeris to match eclipses and solstices, author Dr. Tony Phillips had to go back to the year 1378 to find a similar “winter solstice lunar eclipse.”

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

h/t to WUWT reader “Ray”

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86 thoughts on “Lunar eclipse and winter solstice to coincide, first time since the year 1378

  1. Well you only ever once get to observe ANY event. Events NEVER occur again for those who missed them.

    So I missed the 1378 event; I must have been doing something else that day.

  2. I barely can stay up to midnight for the new year and it would be almost impossible to set an alarm to get up to witness this event.

  3. Thanks for the tip. The kids will love that if they’ll get up and dressed in the middle of the cold night! Probably will be another long, long wait to see that coincidence again.

  4. My Thanks to Dr. Phillips, to Ray and to Anthony…! I’ll be using as much self-control
    as is possible to wait (so, I’ll use that time to figure out ‘when’ this eclipse happens in the skies south of Adelaide. The ‘picture’ that the ‘moon view’ brought to mind was awesome, indeed! My mind has ‘been there a bit’ (ie: ‘The Little Prince’, that guy who lives on the moon with that rose in an upside down beaker…? …which – Truth be told, I STILL don’t ‘get’ to this very day…it was kinda like ‘Flatland’, to me, you know?)

    But, the imagery provided here… “standing on a dusty lunar plain looking up at the sky. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway. You might expect Earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it’s not. The rim of the planet is on fire! As you scan your eye around Earth’s circumference, you’re seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth’s shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb.”…is awe-inspiring stuff.

    It was especially interesting to me…as an intercessor, Scientist-Wanna Be (with a little s, that’s ‘me’…) and, a Shepherdess over 800-plus ‘cross-bred sheep’…(hahaha… are there ANY other kind, she laughingly asks….?) ’cause it just so happens to be yet another of the satanists ‘high holy days’, as well.

    During ‘their events’ globally…….. their…..’sabbat festivals’ as they call them… (those which have eyes to see and ears to hear, let them take notice) where they engage in all sorts of ‘fun’, such as ~ oral, and anal (but, that’s not sex, so……let’s talk about what the definition of ‘is’, is…right?) orgies in supposed ‘glorification’ to their ‘god’, (decidedly LITTLE ‘g’…ah,hum…) So ~ while folks, such as myself, are face down and hearts up in prayer over the total 24 hours of these decidedly obscure obscenities,
    those of you who read this post can now ‘see’ yet another in a plethora of reasons why I enjoy frequenting ‘Watts Up’.

    And, that’s exactly why I don’t claim omniscience (see??? ‘omni-science’??? get it…?
    yet another reason why Science is under attack, guys… ’cause you either are an enlightened ‘observer’ of Glory or…..you learn to say that YOU create the Glory on your own… The ‘ego’ thing, sadly….but, lest I continue to digress and lose the ‘lot’ of you…which would be SO VERY SAD…) I’ve gotta say that I NEVER EVER thought that by dropping by this site, I’d learn to so very easily love so many Individuals (definitely capital ‘I’!) that frequent it, as well.

    Be Blessed and Be Watchful, k? ha-ha-ha…ho-ho-ho… ’cause JUST like Glenn Beck said at that Wilmington, Ohio thingie… (I’m paraphrasing, here…) …when you read the word ‘Santa’… what OTHER word can it ‘turn into’??? (Yeah……most folks were doin’ the normal one you ‘see’ now………but, remember, Beck has a sense of humor like most of us do……. So, he wrote……..” ‘Santa’= ‘Obama’!!!” hahaha hohoho….. and the whole audience laughed and laughed!!!

    Oh!!! One ‘last gift’ before I go to check the critters, as it’s 10am here in the Southeast… Just CHECK OUT ‘FOR YOURSELVES’ the name (which I LOATHE
    to say, as ‘they’ always want to ‘speak things into existence’ but, for YOU GUYS I’m making a learned exception……… Here goes: “BARAK HUSSEIN O-BAMA” go on……………RESEARCH (you guys are into that, right?!) what each of those words mean and I PROMISE you’ll be calling him good ol’ Barry Soetoro from now on. (MY suggestion??? NEVER say those words together, jus’ DON’T DO IT. An’ if you think I’m nutz……then, at least before passing judgement……. RESEARCH what each of those words actually means…..tut, tut, tut, right….? hahaha…big ears an’ all……

    God Bless You Guys……..an’ happy hunting. I, for one, am gonna go learn about the earth being a ‘great ball o’ fire’……!

    C.L. Thorpe

  5. The redness depends to some degree on the amount of volcanic ash in the earth’s atmosphere, which of course alters the redness of our sunsets. One might be able to make a guess about future weather, using this hint about the amount of ash in the atmosphere. Perhaps this is what has led to a certain amount of lore regarding the eclipsed moon being an omen of future events. I think in Shakespere’s Macbeth there is some reference to a “bloody” moon, baleful in the sky during an eclipse, and I once saw an eclipsed moon which was surprising drab and grey, (though I can’t recall what sort of luck it fortold.)

  6. That reminds me I need to RSVP to an invitation to an eclipse watching party.

    One minor correction: that’s a forecast of cloud cover for the contiguous 48 states. The USA covers a tad more real estate than that. You can see the sky cover forecast for my home state and the remainder of the USA by going to the NOAA link here:

    http://www.weather.gov/forecasts/graphical/sectors/conus.php

    Then click on Go to Region just above Washington State and you will find Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.

  7. Thanks Anthony,
    I think Rudolph (the Red-nosed Reindeer ), might argue with the science as presented.
    You know, Rudolph “with his nose so bright…”, probably thinks it’s his fault the moon is red.

  8. George E. Smith says: “So I missed the 1378 event; I must have been doing something else that day.”

    Yeah, you were busy not experiencing not existing but don’t worry you’ll get to not experience not existing again… unfortunately. [:)]

  9. There are not even near a whole number of Lunations in 632 years (7816.742),
    so there cannot have been a Lunar eclipse in 21.12.1378.

  10. We on the Isthmus appear to be in the total eclipse area.

    This family may head for Turrialba Lodge, over 3000 meters elevation: should be good opportunity for exploring our new camera. Photos, maybe, for the great crowd here.

    A thoughtful Advent to you each. regards, John

  11. file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Ian/My%20Documents/My%20Pictures/sulphuricsunset/sulphuricsunset.jpg

    Hey, Guys! Here’s that ‘sulfuric sunset’ I promised!!! Prayerfully, you’ll be able to open it and share it on this ‘red moon’ talk! I took the photo the night after you alerted me
    that the last Asian eruption would send ‘beautiful sunsets’ to Australia.

    Hope this works! I’ve been tryin’ to send it to you for 3 weeks……. it was my step-daughter that just came in to do this……..all kudos to Fiona!

    Cynthia Lauren Thorpe

  12. “LibertyAtStake says:
    December 17, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Clouds + winter solstice + no sun = “really, really cold,” right?”

    The sun is not visible anyway around midnight in North America. It is the moon that is in the shadow of the earth.

  13. Tarnation!

    South central Texas is the only gray spot for 500 miles or more in any direction. At least it’s light gray. A broken sky would still be fine. With the way this winter is going we might even have snow on the ground that night. Florida too! Who’d a thunk it possible.

  14. Ulric, is there the possibility of date shifting due to the “Old Style” Julian calendars in use in the 14 th century versus the “New Style” Gregorian calendar of later centuries?

    As far as I know, the Gregorian calendar didn’t have widespread acceptance until the middle of the 18th century, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t in use in some places prior to that, as it was developed and “issued” by 1582, although it took ages to become more or less universal.

  15. Does this mean the greenie earth worshippers will be dancing around the campfire in their birthday suits?

  16. I observed and photographed our last total lunar eclipse 3 years ago on a beautiful winter night. I’ve been looking forward to this very momentous day and keeping my fingers crossed for a clear evening, I’ll even take -30 in trade for the view.

  17. Bob Buchanan says:
    December 17, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Well this will be EXTRA special since the 21st is my daughter’s birthday!

    And happy birthday to your daughter! Hope you are both in an area that you can see it.

  18. Even a picture of the full moon can bring out the odd ones, ……….. Mods please delete initial post, thank you.

  19. Ulric Lyons
    RE: Different dates for the lunar eclipse:
    This was posted on another forum:
    Richard,
    In 1638 (vs. 1554), the total lunar eclipse occurred on December 21st, while in 1554 it occurred on December 9th. The one in 1554 occurred on the Solstice, though, and the one in 1638 occurred many days after.
    How’s that?
    The Julian calendar had gone out-of-sync with the seasonal calendar by about 11 days. So the one in 1554 was on the Solstice; the one in 1638 was not. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregorian_calendar#Gregorian_reform
    Posted by: Ethan Siegel | December 17, 2010 7:38 PM
    The one in 1554 (December 9th) was not a full moon. Full moon 1554 was December 21.
    http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/phase/phases-1599.html

  20. The sites I used were:

    http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/lunar.html

    Here you will get information about the specifics of the eclipse.

    http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/JLEX/JLEX-index.html

    This is the JavaScript Lunar Eclipse Explorer. This can be used to calculate the local circumstances for all lunar eclipses from any location (and for times past and future).

    There is a companion site for SOLAR eclipses, too:

    http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/JSEX/JSEX-index.html

    Biloxi, MS, appears to be under some amount of cloud cover on that day. So hoping that the forecast is wrong.

  21. At least north Texas looks clear for that early morning. Good! I may get to take my one quick look. It’ll be cold for sure, but this eclipse sounds pretty cool.

  22. Geez, Anton… getting too used to ‘twittering’, huh?

    I mean, it’s fine if you don’t enjoy my writing…….but, mebbe you should just read a bit more slowly…?

    I dunno. Which part of ‘my rant’ didn’t you…….’get’?

    Maybe there’s too much background noise…..I invite you to try it again. There are some REAL pearls in there, kiddo… But, heck. At 53 and happy……. I don’t need everyone to love me…sniff…sniff…

    Keep Smilin’ my friend, a happily lucid farmer’s wife

    Cynthia Lauren Thorpe

  23. @Alchemy says:
    December 17, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    It is 21.12.1638 new style date, 135,870 days ago. The old style date would be different, but it was still the Solstice.

  24. Thanks for the information as this is an event I won’t miss. The winter solstice is something I celebrate every year as the days finally start getting longer again afterwards. An event that annually calls for the opening a bottle of champagne. This year will hopefully have a visible lunar eclipse in Kamloops BC, but need to find an estimated cloud cover map for Canada. Doesn’t look too promising if one extrapolates the Washington state cloud cover northwards but should at least be able to see a red glow through the clouds if they’re present.

  25. Good reason for me to get up early and try to catch some of it before it sets.
    (Assuming it’s not snowing like anything!)

  26. The graphic indicate the eclipse visible at moonset in the UK. Moonset on the 21st is 08:11 am, but I’m wondering if it means moonset at 08:55 am on the 22nd?

  27. @ES says:
    December 17, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    “The one in 1554 (December 9th) was not a full moon. Full moon 1554 was December 21.”

    A Lunar eclipse has to be at full Moon;

    No Lunar eclipse on the winter solstice in 1554.

  28. There’s another interesting curiosity not mentioned here.

    The Galactic Equator currently intersects the Ecliptic at the solstices (1999 best match I think) and the Galactic Centre lies very close to the winter solstice point of intersection.

    For those interested in astr****y there is more, but here is not the place to discuss – just to note that Newton and Kepler would have had no problem.

  29. @ES says:
    December 17, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    The 1554 Dec 9th Lunar eclipse was partial, not total.
    The 1554 winter solstice was 12.12.1544, 166,550 days ago.

  30. dearieme says:
    December 17, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    “Dec. 21st, the first day of northern winter”: why is such a daft usage so popular in the US?

    I’m not sure exactly what you’re criticizing. The daftest thing I see at first look in it is they generally mean “the first day” to be the first full day. The solstice is a moment, and according to the USNO, important moments are (in UT):

    2010 2010
    Perihelion Jan 3 00 Equinoxes Mar 20 17 32 Sept 23 03 09
    Aphelion July 6 12 Solstices June 21 11 28 Dec 21 23 38

    2011 2011
    Perihelion Jan 3 19 Equinoxes Mar 20 23 21 Sept 23 09 05
    Aphelion July 4 15 Solstices June 21 17 16 Dec 22 05 30

    So here in my EST, astronomical winter begins on Dec 21 at 1838. In time zones east of Greenwich, the solstice is on Dec 22, err 22 Dec. So everywhere, saying “Dec. 21st, the first full day of northern winter” is indeed a daft thing to say this year.

    The US and most NH (Northern Hemisphere, not New Hampshire) climatologists consider winter to begin on Dec 1 and spring to start on Mar 1, but us NH folks (New Hampshire, not Northern Hemisphere) often beg to differ, as winter ends with the start of mud season (followed by a brief spring, then black fly season).

    BTW, before anyone asks why there are fewer than 365.2564 days between perihelia, I think the answer is that the Earth/Moon barycenter (ignoring some tugs by the other planets) is 365.2564 days but the perihelion is the Earth’s closest approach, not the barycenter’s closest approach. Just another reason to hate barycenters. :-)

    Also, as for why the earliest sunset in north temperate zones was a few days ago, see http://wermenh.com/eqoftm.html – it’s a function of the tilt of the Earth and the eccenticty of the Earth’s orbit .

  31. The redheaded goddess cave will be offering early service as well as the usual 11:00 service. Donut hour afterwards. Offerings are encouraged. If you have a grant to study global warming, now would be a good time to put it to good use, as there is very little warming to study at the moment. But on to the important matters at hand. I promise I will make the moon appear again, but only if the offerings please Gaia. And please note, as for warming up the planet again, telepathic news from Mother Earth indicates a sacrifice is demanded. One greenie, frozen solid, per AGW research agency, is the suggested sacrifice. Leave it at the alter and I will take care of the rest.

  32. Ulric Lyons says:
    December 17, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    > Total Lunar Eclipse, 21st December 1638.
    > Ref; The Sky Astronomy software by Bisque.

    When was the solstice that year? Is that a Julian calendar date or Gregorian? From a famous calendar article (Software Problem Report) that predates Wikipedia (and nearly predates the Internet), http://h71000.www7.hp.com/openvms/products/year-2000/leap.html says:

    In 1545, the Council of Trent authorized Pope Gregory XIII to reform the calendar once more. Most of the mathematical work was done by Father Christopher Clavius, S.J. The immediate correction that was adopted was that Thursday, October 4, 1582 was to be the last day of the Julian calendar. The next day was Friday, with the date of October 15. … This [new] calendar is known as the Gregorian calendar and is the one that we now use today. (It is interesting to note that in 1582, all the Protestant princes ignored the papal decree and so many countries continued to use the Julian calendar until either 1698 or 1752. In Russia, it needed the revolution to introduce the Gregorian calendar in 1918.)

    In Unix-land:

    $ cal  1752
                                   1752                                
    ...
            July                  August                September      
    Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa   Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa   Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
              1  2  3  4                      1          1  2 14 15 16
     5  6  7  8  9 10 11    2  3  4  5  6  7  8   17 18 19 20 21 22 23
    12 13 14 15 16 17 18    9 10 11 12 13 14 15   24 25 26 27 28 29 30
    19 20 21 22 23 24 25   16 17 18 19 20 21 22
    26 27 28 29 30 31      23 24 25 26 27 28 29
                           30 31
    ...
    

    BTW, all geeks, especially those who know what VMS is, should read that link. Very little is computer-specific, so non-geeks will like it too.

  33. Ric Werme says:
    December 18, 2010 at 6:33 am

    My astronomy application says 21st Dec 1638. It has to be the solstice as it is 372 solar years of 365.242199 days before this solstice. The 365.2564 (365.25636) figure you gave is the sidereal year, the anomalistic year is 365.25956 days.

  34. Commenting as the goddess in the cave, I here by declare Dec. 21st, 2010 as the day, regardless of which calendar you use. Hey, if the Christians can take over a pagan day and then call it something else, so can I. I’ll let the folks 2000 years from now straighten it out.

    Now there’s a comment on how long it takes us to figure things out.

  35. Whenever I see a year like 1378, and a date like 21st December, I ask myself. according to which calendar? The Julian calendar came into being in 44 BC, IIRC, and lasted for various lengths of times in different countries. It changed to the Gregorian calendar in many peculiar ways, right up to the 18th century. So, I think one needs to ask the question. December 21st according to which calendar, Julian or Gregorian?

  36. Ulric Lyons, are you taking into consideration the reset of the calendar? Remember that the calendar had drifted out of sync with the seasons. There was a correction and a concurrent switch to a new system. This is reflected in NASA JPL ephemerides. Many days went missing one year. Have you factored this into your analysis? And does the software you cite take this into account?

  37. I have no idea when the last lunar eclipse was on a solstice, but I will make my kids get up to watch this one Tuesday AM. looks like the forecast is for partly cloudy.

  38. Ulric Lyons says:
    December 18, 2010 at 7:05 am

    My astronomy application says 21st Dec 1638. It has to be the solstice as it is 372 solar years of 365.242199 days before this solstice. The 365.2564 (365.25636) figure you gave is the sidereal year, the anomalistic year is 365.25956 days.

    Can’t argue with that, thanks. So either 1638 got missed or event timing missed a day in some timezone (and since there weren’t timezones then, I guess Greenwich time would be the reference). Maybe that eclipse wasn’t visible at Greenwich or someone just missed it in looking through the records. Where’s Jean Meeus when we need him? :-)

    BTW, the Gregorian calendar averages 365.2524 days long (in 400 years, there are 97 leap days, so (400*365 + 97)/400 = 365.2524. I think the Russian calendar has a century rule involving nines of centuries, so they get to 365.242222…, but it will be another century or two before their calendar falls out of sync with the Gregorian.

  39. Isn’t it more like you can see these eclipses when ever you just have to be at the right place at the right time.

    These two quotes explain my reasoning:

    ‘How often do you get to witness an event that has not been seen since the year 1378, over half a millennium, 632 years ago?’

    ‘For those that can see it, the moon will likely appear as a deep coppery red, like this 2003 eclipse photo at left.’

    So the answer would be about 7 years. :)

  40. @Ric Werme says:
    December 18, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I just checked and had to step 372*365.242777 days to go from
    {16:06} 21.12.1638 to {23:39} 21.12.2010. = {solstice times}
    Really we looking at a Lunar eclipse occurring on the same day as a winter equinox, whatever calendar date that day has. This could be a problem for New Zealand as the eclipse is around 08:00 GMT.

  41. At my Latitude there will be only about 9 hours of daylight next Tuesday, December 21st. I did some checking and back on June 21st there were almost 15 hours of daylight. Running a simple trend line forecast, by next December 21st there will be no daylight at all. Why hasn’t anyone spoken up about this???

    Happy Winter Solstice to all!

  42. I’m a voodoo chile, lord I’m a voodoo chile.
    Yeah.
    The night I was born, lord the moon stood a fire red.
    Said the night I was born, the moon turned a fire red.
    My poor mother her cryin’, she said “The gypsy was right!”
    And she fell right dead.

    Hey, and he said “Fly on, fly on!”, ’cause I’m a voodoo chile, baby
    voodoo chile.

    RIP Jimi

  43. To Mike Borgelt in Australia and Dearieme,

    just to pass on what I was taught in high school. The reason that we have seasons at all is due to an astronomical event, i.e. the tilt of the earth’s axis in relation to its orbit. Without that tilt there would be no pronounced seasons as we have them today. In fact the earth may have divided up into distinct zones like those on Jupiter which has only a 3 degree tilt to its axis.

    The cardinal dates that relate to the earth’s tilt are the solstices and equinoxes. In our Greco-Babylonian influenced society these dates were said to herald the beginnings of the seasons. The other dominant cultures of antiquity, the Chinese and the Celts, believed that the seasons start half way between the equinoxes and the solstices, the Cross Quarter days. This has led to the confusing conundrum of people referring to the solstices as ‘mid-winter and mid-summer.’

    As mentioned in many posts above our calendar has needed to undergo many reforms over the years to keep it on track. For many reasons, mostly politics and religion, the best chances to keep the calendar aligned with the seasons as it was originally intended in Roman times, has been missed.

    The solstices and equinoxes now appear three weeks into the month in stead of at the beginning as they once did. I feel that Mother Astronomy who now has somewhat bigger fish to fry, has passed the job onto one of her children, in this case meteorologists, to announce the start of the seasons and get into the ear of the politicians to make that announcement official.

    Politicians being the expedient animals that they are can’t handle the inconvenience of seasons starting 3 weeks into a month, so not having the guts to change the calendar to match the start of the seasons, they change the start of the seasons to match the calendar! Confusion rains (sigh).

    Cynthia Lauren Thorpe

    you should look to the north east at sunset to see the moon rising. Unfortunately for you totality will be completely over by the time that the moon rises in Adelaide. The Moon will only be in the penumbral part of the shadow. Nowhere near as spectacular I’m afraid.

    Cheers

    Coops

  44. Total lunar eclipses will become more commonplace with increased CO2 output.

    Please consider further enriching Al Gore and his buddies to prevent this catastrophe. Ask your Senator for a tax rise today!

  45. Actually, 1638 is the last year when the two coincided only if you use UT as the time zone. If you shift the time zone 7:00 to the west (to what is now called Central Standard Time) or farther west, there was an occurrence on Dec.22 1703 when a total lunar eclipse and the December solstice happened on the same date.

  46. Lucy Skywalker says:
    December 18, 2010 at 3:41 am
    “…For those interested in astr****y there is more, but here is not the place to discuss – just to note that Newton and Kepler would have had no problem.”

    Reading this thread, it seems we need astr****ers just to know what day it is:-)

    I’m sure that even our megalithic ancestors had a better handle on the seasons.

  47. Cynthia Lauren Thorpe says:
    December 17, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    “My mind has ‘been there a bit’ (ie: ‘The Little Prince’, that guy who lives on the moon with that rose in an upside down beaker…? …which – Truth be told, I STILL don’t ‘get’ to this very day…it was kinda like ‘Flatland’, to me, you know?)”

    The “Little Prince” character did not live on our Moon, but on asteroid B612 (see http://www.b612foundation.org). The rose was not “in an upside down beaker”, but in the open, behind a screen to protect it from the wind, and under a glass globe at night (a greenhouse).
    See http://home.pacific.net.hk/~rebylee/text/prince/index.html

    Clear Skies!

  48. One point not yet mentioned, Sirius (aka the Dog Star) was once thought to heat the earth and was responsible for the seasons, its proximity the sun in the summer overheating our planet. Pope Gregory in his calendar reforms restored Sirius to curious position of crossing the meridian at midnight on New Years Eve. Probably not coincidence. See for example the book Homo Neccans by Burkhert.

  49. .
    .
    Well, it’s just my back-of-the-envelope visual interpolation but it looks like the average temperature dropped under the several-hundred-year average about AD1378:

    MWP to Little Ice Age

    But heck, in 2010, near Winter Solstice and the Lunar Eclipse there’s nothing but balmy Winter conditions out there in the Northern Hemisphere, right?

    Sister Nature sometimes smiles with a wink. Some of us who endured the imminent nuclear Winters in the 70s might still have a few dusty snuggly blankets packed away in the bottom drawer.
    .
    .

  50. Maybe I missed it above somewhere, but the write up of this event at Spaceweather.com provides an interesting, albeit roundabout, linkage to current climactic conditions, in the form of an explanation for 0.02 degrees of the current “observed” warming. Hmm, that warming must all be in the SH? I haven’t observed it here at 41N for quite some time.

  51. 1378 Dec 04 (or 05) is incorrect. The correct date for the last eclipse and solstice to coincide is 1638 December 21, as reported elsewhere.

    The person who calculated this using the NASA Horizons ephemeris calculator appears to have computed the solar ephemeris in RA and Decl for epoch 2000. That shows the solstice as being approx. 1378 Dec 05. But you should not use epoch 2000, rather the epoch of observation (apparent RA and Decl), which differs due to the long-term small precession of the earth’s axis. When you do this, the solstice in 1378 comes out to be December 14, not on the eclipse. 1638 does match up.

    If you try to do something better than the professionals, you need to take care of all the subtleties.

  52. .
    .

    A. Scientist wrote…

    “If you try to do something better than the professionals, you need to take care of all the subtleties.”

    Supposing that to be a conclusion derived from reading NASA tables of whatever epoch, to me, is curious logic, now that we know how progressive, modern “science” has turned out to be.

    From my (A. Nother Scientist) vantage point and observation , traditional logic and modern science do not always have much in common.

    My conclusions might be…

    “If you try to be professional, you need to take care of all the subtleties, including the logic.” ;-)

    Or,

    “If you’re an amateur, be wary of professionals and their prognostications. Dress warmly if it’s cold outside. Recalibrate your thermometer if it reads 3 degrees C in the ice.”
    .
    .

  53. .
    .
    erik…

    At my age, one tends to forget things a bit. Now that I think back, it was stormy over here in Europe then. An you guys over in the preUSA had recorded your first astronomical event that year (1638) — would you believe it? – a lunar eclipse!
    .
    .

  54. Sky is pretty clear with maybe 10-20% cirrus. At less than 5 hours away it’s looking good.

    Temperature at 8pm is 64F. I know, I know. Eat your hearts out. December 20th in south central Texas was a perfect summer day for people at higher latitudes.

  55. have been watching now for 45 minutes in North Texas. It’s 2:13am and it went all orange about top of the hour. Wow… very cool. Also, believe it or not, it’s mild this morning.. in the sixties and windy.

  56. Temperature didn’t drop all night – almost a constant 65F and very humid. Cloud cover increased to 90% by midnight and the eclipsed moon wasn’t even bright enough to locate through the cloud cover. Mebbe next time.

  57. Andre ~ Thanks for the corrections on the ‘Little Prince’ thing… I really appreciate it.

    Now………. Could you please tell me ‘in essence’ what the silly little book was ABOUT?
    (I’ll just focus on that and figure out ‘Flatland’ (about 3-D +, perhaps???) later.)

    Thanks again, and Merry Christmas to you.

    Cynthia Thorpe

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