Dec 212010

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Total Lunar Eclipse only visible to some across the U.S.
(Photo by Simon Brewer. Click on the picture to go to his eclipse page)

Eclipse on December 21, 2010 taken by Simon Brewer

Eclipse on December 21, 2010 taken by Simon Brewer


I woke up this morning at 2:40 a.m., anxious to view my first total lunar eclipse, which was also suppose to be one of the more rare ones of my generation. I put on several layers of clothing and grabbed my camera equipment that I had set out last night, ready to go. MaryLeigh and I put our shoes on and walked outside into the freezing cold and high winds only to see no stars and no moon. The sky had a blanket of clouds covering up what would be a magnificent lunar eclipse. What a cruel joke mother nature!

It turns out the storm system that failed to bring snow to most of the Northeast late this past weekend was still spinning well out at sea, and brought a batch of high level clouds overhead that none of the computer models were forecasting for this morning! Even the local NWS forecast called for mostly clear skies. And the ironic part about all of this is the clouds didn’t show up until right before the eclipse began! I guess the one positive that came out of this morning is my wife and I did take out a bunch of trash to the dumpster, even though we were literally freezing our tails off! In a clumsy attempt to grab a box from my wife to carry more of the load, I accidentally smacked her in the face with it. Woops!

But we were not the only ones who were robbed of their eclipse viewing experience. A quick glance at the infrared satellite image from 3:15 a.m. EST (below) shows why. Notice that not only was all of New England under a massive cirrus deck, but much of the Southeast, Midwest, Plains and interior West were also covered with clouds from various storm systems across the country. It looks like the Gulf coast, parts of Texas and Oklahoma, the northern Plains and patches of the interior West and Great Lakes were the only regions that had a view of the eclipse. Not that many areas had great viewing conditions for such a spectacular event.

Much of the U.S. was covered with clouds early this morning, spoiling the eclipse view for many.

Infrared satellite image valid 3:15 a.m. EST 12/21/10

Infrared satellite image valid 3:15 a.m. EST 12/21/10


But, certainly the ‘best’ viewing was across parts of Oklahoma, Texas and the Gulf coast. Luckily, Simon was in Oklahoma early this morning on his way back from Ohio. He set up his camera equipment in a field near Wynnewood, OK where cloud cover was not an issue. He captured some magnificent shots of this historic lunar eclipse. One of his photos is seen at the beginning of this blog post, and more can be found on the eclipse page of

So it really stinks that I missed out on this eclipse. But it looks like I’m not alone as many others all across the U.S. woke up very early only to be tremendously disappointed by mother nature’s cruel joke. Until next time…

- Jim