This month, Astronomers Without Borders will help the global public enjoy two special night-sky events—the Geminid meteor shower, which peaks on December 13-14; and a total eclipse of the Moon on the night of December 20-21.

THE GEMINID SHOWER will kick off a new AWB project, “Meteors Without Borders” (MwB), designed to help bring together meteor enthusiasts worldwide as well as to get more groups involved in observing meteors.

Earth encounters the Geminid Meteor Shower—so named because the meteors appear to emanate from the constellation Gemini—every year in December.  For 2010, this shower begins December 7 and ends around December 17.  MwB activities will be focused on the shower’s peak period, December 13-14.

THE TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE will occur on the night of December 20-21 (starting in late evening December 20 for the central and western United States and Canada, as well as Alaska and Hawaii; and in the early morning hours of December 21 for the eastern United States and eastward).  The penumbral phase of the eclipse begins at 05:29 UT; partial eclipse starts 06:32 UT; and the 72-minute total phase begins at 07:40 UT and ends at 08:53 UT.

This eclipse inaugurates the new AWB project “Eclipses Without Borders” (EwB), which will coordinate eclipse-viewing activities of amateur astronomy groups and the public worldwide and provide ways for eclipse viewers to record and share their experiences.

A total eclipse of the Moon occurs when the Moon's orbit carries it fully into the Earth's shadow—an event that happens about once every three years.  A lunar eclipse can be seen from any part of the Earth, provided the Moon is visible at the time of the eclipse.  One of EwB’s ongoing activities will be to provide videocasts of both lunar and solar eclipses, enabling worldwide audiences to watch them live.

For more information about the meteor shower and eclipse:

Meteors Without Borders: Geminids 2010
Eclipses Without Borders: Total Lunar Eclipse 2010 December