Environment & Science

Winter solstice, full moon lunar eclipse tonight

Total Lunar Eclipse on August 27, 2007 as viewed from Glendale, CA.
Total Lunar Eclipse on August 27, 2007 as viewed from Glendale, CA.
Jason Georges/KPCC

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A spectacular holiday lights display is expected up in the sky tonight, if you can see it through the rain.

Tonight is the winter solstice. A full moon will sit high in the sky. And there will be a full moon lunar eclipse.

It’s the first time in centuries a lunar eclipse has come on the solstice. The entire show is expected to last three hours as the sun, the earth and the moon line up.

The total eclipse begins about 20 minutes to midnight. That phase – when the moon is darkened entirely by the earth’s shadow – is expected to last about an hour.

All of it is happening in a perfect position for stargazers in North America to have the best view. It would have been perfect on a typical Southern California night. But the rainfall and cloud cover may dampen the view.

Still, the Griffith Observatory is preparing to host an eclipse party, rain or shine. Telescopes will be out on the lawn in front of the observatory for you to look through. And astronomers will be out giving free lectures on the various stages of the eclipse.

You actually don’t need a telescope to see it. And you don’t need any special glasses, those are for solar eclipses. You do need the clouds to part.