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Science Wednesday: Season’s Greetings for the Eclipse

2010 December 22

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Aaron Ferster

While yesterday was the solstice and the “official” start of winter, it’s been feeling like the season got an early start around the Washington, DC area this year. It’s been cold.

I don’t think it got much above 25 degree the night before last in my neighborhood. So naturally, sometime just before 2:00 a.m., my wife and I roused our two daughters out from beneath their covers and marched them outside into the frigid night air.

Time to watch the moon disappear.

No one complained. We watched wide-awake as the stunning bright yellow of a giant full moon slowly gave way. First just a small slice of the Cheshire-cat-like moon slipped away. Then, as the sliver of darkness advanced, a brownish red hue spread across what was left of the moon. A holiday light show in the night sky. Slowly and steadily, light gave way to shadow.

As we stood outside all bundled up, we chatted about the spectacle that was unfolding, and how long it’s been since there was a full lunar eclipse this close to the winter solstice. (1638 was the last time, according to an expert cited in The Washington Post.)

There were more than a few bleary-eyed people on the train platform the next morning, and my daughter reports that nearly every kid in her class rose their hand when the teacher asked who woke up to watch the moon disappear.

There is something universally appealing about watching such a natural spectacle. I like to believe that the lunar eclipse is, in essence, a science story. It was another opportunity to get outside and note how science and the environment unite us by peaking our interest and giving us a common story to share with our kids, neighbors, and coworkers.

Were you one of the many people watching the lunar eclipse the other night? What other science and environmental stories do you think you’ll remember from 2010?

Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

And happy holidays!

About the author: A dedicated night-owl, Aaron Ferster is the lead science writer in EPA’s Office of Research and Development and the editor or Science Wednesday.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    December 22, 2010

    Doesn’t Sleep Overnight. Luckily ?
    Dark makes me touching eyes for cries. All my experiences daily shoot in this sense and spread our bodies and debated without results. Water…. ya water. In Europe and America much waters by snows now. Thank you God, but why the people apathetic ? We need the water likes we need the air, aren’t we?. Thank you lunar eclipse which comes here since 4 hundreds years ago in our night. I hope next I will see you again, because living in the night are better than traffic jam in the day. Dark is luckily, and dark is essence of our universes…..

  2. Kate Lynch permalink
    December 22, 2010

    We were so thrilled here in western Washington to see most of the eclipse – MOST unusual for December! Many of my friends and co-workers stayed up past midnight to see it. It was a bit warmer here – low 40s – so tolerable to stand outside with the camera on a tripod. We didn’t see the red moon, probably because the moon was in and out of clouds. Heavy cloud cover rolled in right at totality. Bummer. Got some great shots though, posted here

  3. armansyahardanis permalink
    December 23, 2010

    Supernatural Article !
    Thanks God. This article brings me beyond The Moon – The Sun – , far away looking the darkness. Oh my God…, I see “The Nucleus” shock to me and said: “You must be learn and learn again”. I cried…..

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    January 2, 2011

    We had anearly start to winter here in California as well. It started raining in October but normally does not start until around now. Last week, we coulden’t see the luner eclipse because we were getting one of the biggist rains we have ever had for that time of year. We are having another good rain here today. But your picture of the eclipse is great. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. H. Victoria permalink
    January 4, 2011

    This artical is really cool because everything it says i saw the night the lunear ecplips happened. Its very rare that you see a lunear eclips in december…but it was the start of winter, i stood outside past mid-night and watch it all happen. it was my first time seeing it and i wont forget it.

  6. Micropipette permalink
    January 11, 2011

    Wonderfully described for the eclipse. This is a huge incident on the earth and gets a lot of attention.

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