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Total Lunar Eclipse Hits During Winter Solstice

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(File photo: a lunar eclipse nears totality.)

(File photo: a lunar eclipse nears totality.)

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Early Tuesday morning, you’ll be able to ring in the arrival of winter with a rare sky show.  It’s the first total lunar eclipse on the winter solstice in nearly four centuries.

Not since 1638 — and not again until 2094 — has there been such an event on the shortest day of the year, when the star of the show appears at its highest in the sky.

“The full moon will move through the earth’s shadow,” explains Franklin Institute chief astronomer Derrick Pitts.  “And as the moon moves into the deepest portion of the shadow, we’ll see a very rich, deep red color appear on the moon.  And then the moon will slide out again.”

Pitts says we could see the surface of the moon take on a darker red hue than usual, thanks to the fine particles being thrown into the atmosphere by the volcano in Iceland (which also has made for some memorable sunrises and sunsets).

AccuWeather is calling for only patchy clouds overnight for the event that starts at 1:33am and lasts until 5:01am.

If you don’t want to miss it, but need some sleep for work, set your alarm for 2:40am to see the most colorful part of the eclipse, which will last a little more than an hour.

Reported by Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio 1060.

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