Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last night's stunning winter solstice lunar eclipse...

Red tint from sunrises and sunsets on earth.
Photo: J. Mapleton
J. Mapleton

Last night's spectacular lunar eclipse was the first to take place on the winter solstice since the time of Galileo, nearly 400 years ago. The next visible total lunar eclipse in the U.S. won't happen until April 15th, 2014.
     Though in much of the country, the eclipse was eclipsed by clouds, here in Omaha, the night sky was beautifully clear, if rather bright. (Though Lincoln banned billboard lights pointing up years ago, Omaha grand­fathered them into a more recent ordinance restricting light pollution.)
     In rural Nebraska, the velvet darkness, free of most air and light pollution, brilliantly set off a red moon in earth's shadow. These pictures were taken from the sand hills near Valentine, one of the premiere star gazing areas in the U.S. because of the extremely dark skies above huge, sparsely populated Cherry County (about the size of Massachusetts, if you chop off Cape Cod.)

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