For, when with beauty we can virtue join, We paint the semblance of a form divine.
- Matthew Prior, English Poet and Diplomat (1664-1721)
A total lunar eclipse is set to take place next Monday night and Tuesday morning (December 20 – 21) and for viewing, the best seats on the planet are in North and Central America. Weather may prove to be a spoiler, however.
The eclipse begins around 9:30pm Monday on the West Coast, half an hour after midnight for those on the East. Total eclipse begins at 11:41pm PST / 2:41am EST. The totality phase (when the moon is entirely eclipsed in Earth’s shadow) will last a little over an hour.
The thing that makes this lunar eclipse quite the rarity is that it lands on the exact day of the Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, leading Fox News to trumpet it with the following apocalyptic headline:
Right on schedule, a harbinger of doom precisely two years to the day before the end of the Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012.