I’m posting this a day early because I want to give you some lead time in case the weather cooperates wherever you are. Here in California, it is unlikely that we will experience the eclipse.
Happy Winter Solstice! And we get to celebrate it with a total lunar eclipse. It will last a whopping 72 minutes! It starts at Monday night, December 20th, 10:33 PM PST (or 1:33 AM EST on Tuesday morning, December 21st).
How rare is that? The last total lunar eclipse was February 21, 2008. We have one in 2010 and two in 2011 (June 15th and December 10th). But the last time a total lunar eclipse that occurred on Winter Solstice? 1638 (*). And the next one will be 2094. So this definitely falls in the “once in a lifetime” category, if you are lucky enough to witness it.
For more information about the lunar eclipse, check out the article at Science.com.
(*) There is some confusion out there as to whether the last winter solstice total lunar eclipse occurred in 1378 or 1638. See the update at the bottom of the page for more information. There is also a Facebook page with discussions on the confusion. The confusion seems to stem from conversion from Julian to Gregorian calendar.