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Lunar eclipse ends the year for parts of the world

The Moon enters Earth's shadow for a partial lunar eclipse December 31. Residents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia will get the best views.
December 2009 Earth's shadow
Earth’s shadow covered the Moon’s north pole during this September 2006 eclipse. On December 31, our shadow kisses the lunar south pole.
Anthony Ayiomamitis
On December 31, the Moon will undergo a partial lunar eclipse. This eclipse is considered "partial" because Earth's umbral shadow — the shadow's darkest part — will cover only 8 percent of the Moon at maximum. But the entire face of the Moon will pass through the lighter penumbra and turn a light gray.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Full Moon align in that order. Viewers can expect to see a bite taken out of the Full Moon's southern limb, while the rest of the disk takes on a more grayish hue than normal.

Residents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia will get the best views. In North America, those in the far northeast will see the end of the eclipse, and those in the far northwest will see the eclipse begin.

The eclipse will begin at 17h17m Universal Time (12:17 p.m. EST). It will take 4 hours and 11 minutes for the Moon to pass through Earth's shadow completely. Maximum will occur at 19h23m UT (2:23 p.m. EST, 10:23 a.m. AKST).

The next partial lunar eclipse will occur June 26, 2010, and the next total lunar eclipse will be December 21, 2010.

Eclipse begins: 12:17 p.m. EST, 8:17 a.m. AKST
Umbral eclipse begins: 1:52 p.m. EST, 9:52 a.m. AKST
Mideclipse: 2:23 p.m. EST, 10:23 a.m. AKST
Umbral eclipse ends: 2:52 p.m. EST, 10:52 a.m. AKST
Eclipse ends: 4:28 p.m. EST, 12:28 p.m. AKST
StarDome
Additional online observing tools from Astronomy magazine
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