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Lunar Eclipse of the Moon Takes Place Tonight

December 20, 2010 6:53 AM | News

By David Klassen

MIAMI - FEBRUARY 20:  A palm tree blows in the breeze as the moon is covered in the Earth's shadow during a phase of the lunar eclipse February 20, 2008 in Miami, Florida. This will be the last lunar eclipse seen from North America until 2010.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Star gazers are in for an early Christmas treat later tonight, or technically on Tuesday, when a lunar eclipse happens to coincide with the winter solstice.

The effect creates an array of colour on the moon, ranging from grey to pink, or even red, when it blocks out the Earth’s rays when both are perfectly aligned.

The eclipse will last for about three and half hours and will be visible if skies are clear at 1:41 a.m. CT on Tuesday. The best vantage point would be anywhere away from city street lights and other illuminations. Those on the west coast will begin seeing it at 11:41 p.m. PT.

Two other lunar eclipses will occur next year, in June and next December, but the June showing won’t be visible to those in North America.

No need to put on safety goggles for tonight’s display, because unlike a solar eclipse, lunar eclipses are easy on the eyes.