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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Watch Meteor Shower, Eclipse Under Bryce Canyon's Dark Sky

The Geminid meteor shower will light up our sky the nights of Dec. 13 and 14, and a rare total lunar eclipse will happen on the night of Dec. 20. (The most dramatic point of the eclipse will occur at 1:17 a.m. on Dec 21, Mountain Standard Time.)

Bryce Canyon National Park will be one of the best places in the world to watch these celestial light shows (weather permitting). Bryce Canyon has been recognized for its "dark sky" - light and air pollution are minimal there and so the park offers a remarkably clear view of the night sky. (Here's more info about the park's dark sky.)

Space.com provides this information about the meteor shower and eclipse. Below are excerpts.

Skywatchers, grab your blankets. December's night sky spectacular will feature the best meteor shower of 2010 as well as the only total lunar eclipse of the year -- sights that should outshine any New Year's Eve fireworks display in terms of sheer wonder.

The massive Geminid meteor shower returns every year, so you'll have more chances if the cold proves too daunting on the night of Dec. 13. But anyone in North America who skips the total lunar eclipse on the night of Dec. 20 will be missing what promises to be the best lunar eclipse show until April 2014.

Like most meteor showers, the Geminids will be at their best after midnight (early on the morning of Dec. 14), when the Earth is heading directly into the meteoroid stream. But some will be visible earlier in the night, on the evening of Dec. 13, because the meteors' radiant (where they appear to originate) is nearly circumpolar, so they will stay in view above the horizon all night.

NASA provides this info about the lunar eclipse. Below are excerpts.

The last lunar eclipse of 2010 is especially well placed for observers throughout North America. The eclipse occurs at the Moon's descending node in eastern Taurus, four days before perigee.

At the instant of greatest eclipse (08:17 UT) the Moon lies near the zenith for observers in southern California and Baja Mexico.

The entire event is visible from North America and western South America. Observers along South America's east coast miss the late stages of the eclipse because they occur after moonset. Likewise much of Europe and Africa experience moonset while the eclipse is in progress. Only northern Scandinavians can catch the entire event from Europe. For observers in eastern Asia the Moon rises in eclipse. None of the eclipse is visible from south and east Africa, the Middle East or South Asia.

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