Early Christmas Present: Eclipse and Solstice
An early Christmas present is on the way, and it's wrapped in shadow.
There's a total eclipse of the moon tonight (technically tomorrow morning, December 21), visible all over the United States, weather willing. Above is a picture from the last time a total lunar eclipse was visible in Hutchinson, Kansas. See more pictures of the August, 2007, eclipse, here.
According to NASA the eclipse should begin the partial phase in the Central Standard Time Zone at 12:33 AM. It will be in totality from 1:41 AM to 2:53 AM. Within totality, it will be eclipsed to the greatest degree at 2:17 AM. It will exit the partial phase at 4:01 AM.
What makes this even better is that it's the same day as the Winter Solstice, which is tomorrow, the 21st. This is rare; according to the US Naval Observatory it occurred last in the Northern Hemisphere in 1638. Read more at Space.com.