First Winter Solstice Eclipse in U.S. History

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Lunar Eclipse as Seen in Turtle Journal Time Machine

Winter Solstice offers us a rare grand finale to 2010 with a total lunar eclipse in the very wee hours of December 21st.  According to net geeks who have run searches and calculations in Gregorian and Julian calendars, the last time a winter solstice presented a total lunar eclipse was back in the days of Pilgrims and the Plymouth Colony in 1638.  How long ago was that?  1638 witnessed the first historical mention of Barnstable (Cape Cod), as well as the death of legendary clergyman John Harvard.  Back in the “Old World,” the Thirty Years War would still rage for another decade.  Since Turtle Journal claims no special astronomic or astrological skills, we can’t independently confirm the 1638 date.  In fact, yesterday’s Montreal Gazette reported that NASA calculates the last time the winter solstice and a total lunar eclipse happened at the same time was 1554.  Yes, for those historical scholars amongst us, that was the year Elizabeth (future Queen Elizabeth I) was tossed into the Tower by her half sister Queen Mary; the year that Lady Jane Grey, the usurper, was beheaded alongside her husband; and the year Walter Raleigh was born.  Whichever date, 1638 or 1554 proves correct, it has been a long, long time since we’ve had the chance to celebrate the winter solstice with a total lunar eclipse, and never before in the history of the United States of America.

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Moon Completely Enveloped in Earth’s Shadow

So, on Monday evening, make your preparations.  Sometime in the early, early hours of the 21st, around 1:30 am, the moon will become partially engulfed as it moves toward total eclipse.  The night will drag a burnt orange pallet across craters and valleys until totality arrives around 2:40 am. 

Turtle Journal Time Machine Coverage of Lunar Eclipse

Because the weather forecast threatens snow showers for Monday night and Tuesday morning, Turtle Journal has spared no expense to invent an elegant time machine to provide its loyal readers an early and clearer vision of this rare event.  We had no intention to allow New England winter weather to spoil this once-in-half-millenium happening.

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