Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse Marks 'Official' Beginning of Winter, Shortest Day of Year

The above photo was taken by NASA and streamed live on their website featuring the total lunar eclipse earlier this morning.  The timing of this event, on the same day as the beginning of astronomical winter (winter solstice), is relatively rare (it's been nearly 400 years since this coincidence last took place).

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of pictures of the eclipse being posted from all around North America on Twitter right now.  Enter the search term "lunar" or "eclipse" and you'll be taken right to many of them.

Today also happens to be the shortest day of the year in North America.  As an example, here at my home near Kyle, TX, the sun rose today at 7:24 a.m. CST and will set this evening at 5:37 p.m. CST, giving a total of 10 hours and 13 minutes of daylight.  Contrast that with 1 month from today, when the sun will rise at 7:28 a.m. and set at 6:00 p.m. CST, giving a total of 10 hours and 32 minutes of daylight.

To view sunrise/sunset times for specific dates at your location, I suggest WolframAlpha.com.  Simply enter "sunrise at CITY, ST" and press enter (it will display both sunrise and sunset times and hours of daylight for the current date by entering that simple command).  If you want to see data for another specific date (past or future) simply enter the date following the City and state (i.e., "sunrise at Kyle, TX January 21, 2011").

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