The only total lunar eclipse of 2010 will be visible from all of North America and the Western Hemisphere. The eclipse “officially” begins on Dec. 21 at 12:29 a.m. EST as the moon begins to enter Earth’s outer, or penumbral, shadow. That won’t happen again until 2014.
The entire 72 minutes of the total lunar eclipse will be visible from all of North and South America, the northern and western part of Europe, and a small part of northeast Asia including Korea and much of Japan. Totality will also be visible in its entirety from the North Island of New Zealand and Hawaii.
In all, an estimated 1.5 billion people will have an opportunity to enjoy the best part of this lunar show. In other parts of the world, either only the partial stages of the eclipse will be visible or the eclipse will occur when it’s daytime and the moon is not above their local horizon.
But even in clear weather, skywatchers will not notice any changes in the moon’s appearance until about 45 minutes later when a slight “smudge” or shading begins to become evident on the upper left portion of the moon’s disk. The moon might take on some odd colors during the eclipse. This is the first lunar eclipse during the winter solstice in 456 years. According to NASA, the last time a lunar eclipse and the winter solstice happened at the same time was in AD 1554.