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A rare drama will play out in tonight’s skies: a full lunar eclipse on the winter solstice.

The last one occurred in 1638, according to NASA, and tonight’s may be only the second one in the last two millennia.

“Since Year 1, I can only find one previous instance of an eclipse matching the same calendar date as the solstice, and that is 1638,” Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory, who inspected a list of eclipses going back 2,000 years, said on NASA’s solstice lunar eclipse page. The next lunar eclipse on the winter solstice won’t be such a long wait, though. It’s expected in 2094.

Skywatchers expect the eclipse to occur over a three-and-a-half hour period, starting at 10:33 p.m. PT today and ending 2:01 a.m. PT tomorrow. The Earth’s shadow will completely cover the moon for about 72 minutes, according to NASA’s eclipse page. The shadow is likely to have a reddish hue.

  1. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    I’ve traveled long distances solely for the pleasure of experiencing total solar eclipses. They aren’t double Rainbow phantasmagorphoric, but they are fun.

    Lunar eclipse?

    I don’t get it.

  2. ECA says:

    the EARTH occults the moon..

  3. FRAGaLOT says:

    Yeah no way I’ll get to see this, it’s been overcast for days in northern California. Meh.

  4. msbpodcast says:

    It looks like the weather will cooperate in NJ. I’ll take a picture if its worth it.

  5. mharry860 says:

    Expected, is that like all of the economic news that says unexpected. I’m pretty sure this is going to happen, so it’s not expected.

  6. foobar says:

    Wait for it. Wait for it….

  7. soundwash says:

    right now (1:19am) we have a huge double halo/ring around the moon!

    and my friggin camera has jammed.. :/


  8. The0ne says:

    Don’t seen anything. Damn fog and rain…and in San Diego!! Urgh…

  9. chris says:

    I was outside at peak of eclipse. Moon turned red, and is 3/4 red 15 min later.


  10. FRAGaLOT says:

    last time i saw one of these was in the 80s over summer time.. the Moon turns dark red, and is spooky. looks like Mars

  11. raddad says:

    In other news we have pizza one night a year and this year it will be on 12/21, the winter solstice. So, our pizza event is equally rare as this lunar eclipse.

  12. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Ha, ha. I just tripped on the Header: Lunar Eclipse “Expected” Tonight as if some voodoo was involved.

    Common language still contains traces of our evolutionary roots.

  13. WmDE says:

    My wife and I watched the eclipse last night. Being of the senior citizen persuasion standing in the yard in the cold, looking up was not too comfy.

    I set up a lunar observatory. I backed the Jeep Liberty out of the garage and parked it perpendicular to the driveway. We watched the eclipse through the Moonroof.

  14. JimD says:

    Solar System “Moons” Earth ! Take that !!!

  15. Dallas says:

    But what does it mean?


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