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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Not true: "the Darkest Day in 372 Years"

You've probably seen tonight's winter solstice lunar eclipse described in a headline something like this:

The Darkest Day in 372 Years!

Alas, it's not true.

It's the first winter solstice lunar eclipse in that long, yes, but tonight's the night of the full moon. And, of course: Full moon nights are the brightest nights, not the darkest.

Lunar eclipses always occur on the night of the full moon. That's the only time they can happen; when the moon is opposite the sun.

The darkest night would be when there is a new moon (no visible moon) on the winter solstice. That's not exactly common, but happens every 4-5 years. The last one was in 2006, if my quick Google is correct. No one paid much attention, as it's really not that big a deal.

So: Enjoy the lunar eclipse, for sure. It is indeed very unusual to have one fall on the winter solstice.

But the night will be well-lit and bright before and after the eclipse; and not very dark at all!

Posted via email from Fred's posterous