Tonight's the night! Multiple astronomical events are lining up for an extremely rare display of synchronization as this year's Winter Solstice occurs simultaneously with a total lunar eclipse. Rare indeed, as the last time this happened was nearly 400 years ago.
But wait - there's more! The seldom seen Ursids meteor shower will also take place. This particular annual show is rarely witnessed compared to its brighter counterparts, but stargazers will have an exceptional chance to view the display this year because of the eclipse's darkened sky.
As this celestial drama unfolds, North and Central America will see the moon completely darkened by Earth's shadow as our planet passes between it and the sun. The total eclipse will take about 3.5 hours, beginning at 11:41pm PST on Monday, or 2:41am EST on Tuesday, with the best impression happening around 12:17am PST, or 3:17am EST.
In the Northern Hemispere, December 21 is the Winter Solstice, the year's longest night and shortest day. From this point on, the hours of daylight begin to lengthen. But for tonight, coupled with the lunar spectacle, we're in for an especially dark eve. Throw a log on the fire and snuggle up.