The wee hours of Dec 21, 2010 will mark the first time since 1638 that a total lunar eclipse will coincide with the winter soltice. That's right, the night before the longest night of the year will be darker than expected as the full moon is blotted from the sky in most of the northern hemisphere.
Here's a handy chart from NASA's Space.com Website that displays which parts of the globe will experience the total eclipse. (Sorry Eastern Africa, Middle East and India.)
What does it all mean? Probably nothing, except that those of us in the Northern section of the Western hemisphere must endure two nights that are, as Nebraskan moms say, darker than a well-digger's ass. However, any unexplained phenomena experienced during the solstice eclipse should be reported immediately to email@example.com.
And please let's remember: The winter solstice marks the mid-point of winter, not the start.