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bea&txm via Creative Commons

Newgrange winter dawn coincides with rare total lunar eclipse

On the shortest day of the year, the two celestial events will coincide for first time in about 450 years.

AT DAWN TOMORROW, sunlight will stream through the passages of Newgrange just as the moon passes out of a rare total lunar eclipse, the Irish Times reports.

Astronomer Prof Tom Ray of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies said that the last time the two events overlapped, the Tudors were still on the English throne.

The winter solstice is the only day of the year that light flows through the passage and chamber at Newgrange, and the event attracts thousands of people to the site. Tickets for entry to the tomb for the winter solstice sunrise are distributed through a free lottery system.

Astronomy Ireland has invited the public to join its members in a meeting at Sean Moore Park in Sandymount, Dublin, at 7am tomorrow to watch the eclipse and sunrise.

AI says:

Just before sunrise on the Winter Solstice 2010, a Full Moon will turn red as it rests just above the western horizon. This event is known as a total lunar eclipse, as the Moon will move into Earth’s shadow. From 6:32am, you will be able to see the Moon gradually get darker as Earth’s shadow is cast upon it, and at 7:40am the Moon will have entered totality.

Anyone heading out to watch events unfold will have to wrap up well with sub-zero temperatures forecast for tomorrow morning.

NASA says that while the celestial events will be visible to people across Europe, those living in northern Scandanavia are in the best position to observe it all.

Are you planning to watch the lunar eclipse or tomorrow’s sunrise? Send your photos to if you’d like them to appear on the site in our winter solstice slideshow.