Lunar eclipse, Hubble telescope and wonders of the night sky

Published: Monday, Dec. 20 2010 12:58 p.m. MST

The night sky is full of wonders. Some can be seen by the naked eye, and some need the aid of an orbiting telescope.

Stargazers tonight will have the rare treat of celebrating both the only lunar eclipse of 2010 and the winter solstice.

An Associated Press article that ran in the Deseret News states that North and Central America should be able to view the entire eclipse. It will begin at 12:41 a.m. MST (2:41 a.m. EST) and is expected to last 3 1/2 hours.

Whether or not Utahns will be able to see the eclipse will depend at least in part on the weather. As of mid-day Monday, conditions didnt look promising.

According to an AOL article, this will be the first time in 372 years that a lunar eclipse has coincided with the winter solstice.

NASA explains why the moon appears red during an eclipse. The moon is reflecting every sunrise and sunset in the world as the Earth crosses in front of the sun.

AOL also discusses the difficulty of capturing the "stunning photographs" taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

"You are dealing with the most incredible pictures of the universe that have ever been collected, and you do treat these images with reverence, Ray Villard, a spokesman for the Space Telescope Science Institute, told AOL News. These pictures speak of death and creation, stars blowing up and stars being born — they become almost spiritual. And they become very evocative to people.

AOL explains that "in order to obtain images of the highest quality, Hubble snaps multiple black-and-white photographs using different color filters. The images are then layered upon one another to create a single color image in a 'digital darkroom' using Photoshop."

"Those colors are not artificial — they are as close to reality as we can get, Villard told AOL News.

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