Lunar eclipse for North America before sunrise December 10

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Much of North America will be in a position to watch an eclipse of the moon before sunrise on Saturday, December 10. The northern and western parts of North America (and also Hawaii) get to watch the entire eclipse from start to finish, whereas the eastern and southern parts of North America will see only the beginning stages of the eclipse or no eclipse at all.

Earth at the start of the partial lunar eclipse

Day and night sides of Earth at start of partial lunar eclipse (2011 December 10 6:46 a.m. Central Time)

If you live in the world’s eastern hemisphere – Europe, Africa, Asia, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand – the eclipse of the moon will take place after sunset on Saturday, December 10. We have a special program just for you on tomorrow’s Tonight’s Sky.

Total lunar eclipse for much of the world on night of December 10

By the way, a lunar eclipse can happen only at full moon. That’s because the moon can be directly opposite the sun in our sky and sit in the Earth’s shadow only at full moon. Since this is the closest full moon to the December 21 winter solstice, we in the Northern Hemisphere often call this particular full moon the “Long Night Moon.”

Why aren’t there eclipses at every full and new moon?

The Earth’s umbra – dark shadow – will totally cover over the lunar disk for 51 minutes. Before and after totality, the moon will be partially eclipsed for one hour and 20 minutes. So the whole eclipse, from start to finish, will last for about three and one-half hours. We give the eclipse times in Universal Time (and for the U.S. time zones at the bottom of the page).

Partial eclipse begins: 12:46 Universal Time
Total eclipse begins: 14:06 UT
Greatest eclipse: 14:32 UT
Total eclipse ends: 14:57 UT
Partial eclipse ends: 16:18 UT

How do I translate Universal Time into my time?

In the United States, only Alaska and Hawaii see the whole eclipse from start to finish. From Canada, the Yukon and most of British Columbia and the Northwestern Territories will see the entire eclipse.

Nonetheless, the western parts of the U.S. and Canada will see all but the final stages of the eclipse. If you live on the Pacific Coast or in the Rocky Mountain States, a partial eclipse will adorn the sky during the predawn hours, and the totally eclipsed moon will be visible low in the west at or close to dawn.

Earth at the start of the total lunar eclipse

Day and night sides of Earth at start of total lunar eclipse (2011 December 10 7:06 a.m. Mountain Time)

If you live in the American Midwest or Mexico (except, perhaps, the Baja Peninsula), you’ll miss the total eclipse. But you may be privy to a lovely view of the partially eclipsed moon sitting by the horizon in the morning twilight.

Clock time for dawn and sunrise in your sky

Wherever you may live in North America, it’ll probably be to your advantage to find a level and unobstructed western horizon. From most places in North America, the moon will be in eclipse as it sets in the west-northwest at sunrise. Watch for the lunar eclipse to take place in tomorrow’s predawn and/or dawn sky, before sunrise on Saturday, December 10.

Local Times of Eclipse for U.S. Time Zones

Eastern Standard Time:
Partial eclipse begins: 7:46 a.m.
Total eclipse begins: 9:06 a.m.
Greatest eclipse: 9:32 a.m.
Total eclipse ends: 9:57 a.m.
Partial eclipse ends: 11:18 a.m.

Central Standard Time:
Partial eclipse begins: 6:46 a.m.
Total eclipse begins: 8:06 a.m.
Greatest eclipse: 8:32 a.m.
Total eclipse ends: 8:57 a.m.
Partial eclipse ends: 10:18 a.m.

Mountain Standard Time:
Partial eclipse begins: 5:46 a.m.
Total eclipse begins: 7:06 a.m.
Greatest eclipse: 7:32 a.m.
Total eclipse ends: 7:57 a.m.
Partial eclipse ends: 9:18 a.m.

Pacific Standard Time:
Partial eclipse begins: 4:46 a.m.
Total eclipse begins: 6:06 a.m.
Greatest eclipse: 6:32 a.m.
Total eclipse ends: 6:57 a.m.
Partial eclipse ends: 8:18 a.m.

Alaska Standard Time:
Partial eclipse begins: 3:46 a.m.
Total eclipse begins: 5:06 a.m.
Greatest eclipse: 5:32 a.m.
Total eclipse ends: 5:57 a.m.
Partial eclipse ends: 7:18 a.m.

Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time:
Partial eclipse begins: 2:46 a.m.
Total eclipse begins: 4:06 a.m.
Greatest eclipse: 4:32 a.m.
Total eclipse ends: 4:57 a.m.
Partial eclipse ends: 6:18 a.m.

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