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Happy Solstice… It’s the longest night of the year tonight…

They peg the Winter Solstice to this evening. As that great Alaskan blog, The Mudflats, pointed out:

This is one of those holidays that exists objectively, whether we want it or not. Every culture marked it, and every human has noticed it since the beginning of time. And nobody will change it to Monday so we get a long weekend, or combine it with another event and call it “Celestial Day.” It is what it is – simple, scientific, magical and beautiful.

So if you Celebrate the Solstice have a great night… and we can proceed onward to next Summer.

…and here’s a song from one of my favorite musicals, Rogers and Hart’s The Boys from Syracuse, “The Shortest Day of the Year:

It’s the 21st! Good Morning.

It was beautiful…instead of going black the eclipsed moon turned a dark amber red. At 3:00 AM I stood at my window and watched it in all it’s glory, just off Orion’s upper right quadrant. The sky was wonderfully clear and, through my binoculars, I could see the shadowed craters in a dark red-grey surrounded by red highlights.

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, and it’s the last day of Zappadan. Today is the 70th anniversary of Frank’s birth. So here’s some morning music to celebrate – Baby Snakes (recorded live in Munich):

Tonight is a Night of Astronomical Wonder…

Three Hundred and Seventy Two years ago was the last time that the Winter Solstice (which makes tomorrow the shortest day of the year) and a total eclipse of the Moon happened at the same time. I don’t know what you were doing then, but I wasn’t around.

I’m planning on jumping out of bed around 2:30 AM, putting my snuggies on, and going outside to see the major event (and note, there may be some leftovers from the Geminids meteor shower that peaked a couple of days ago, to catch our attention.) What a great sky gazing night!

Here’s what you need to know in order to see everything. From NASA:

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.

Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory inspected a list of eclipses going back 2000 years:

“Since Year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is 1638 DEC 21. Fortunately we won’t have to wait 372 years for the next one…that will be on 2094 DEC 21.”

Here’s the “best view” map from NASA… looks like the USA has got it this time:… Click Here: OH2010-Fig04

According to the Weather Bureau, we should be mostly clear tonite in our area (with temperatures down to 20° –  Brrrr) so we should have a clear view of it.