During a total lunar eclipse, the full moon passes through the shadow created by the Earth blocking the sun's light. (Photo: Slamet Riyadi/AP)
The longest night of 2010 could well be the darkest winter solstice in 456 years: Tuesday's solstice falls on the same day as a full lunar eclipse, a rare celestial occurrence that for some signifies great cosmic energies, reports the
Many religions associate the solstice with the rebirth of the sun, while lunar eclipses are significant especially for Wiccans, because of the interaction between male solar energies and female lunar energies. "The idea that the sun and the moon are almost at their darkest really only further goes to hammer" the idea of rebirth home, a Wiccan priestess says.
When winter solstice last crossed paths with a full lunar eclipse in 1554, it was a dark year politically in England, notes the Gazette. But scientists say that it's all just a coincidence. "It's quite rare, but there's no profound significance," says an astronomy instructor at Carleton University. The eclipse will begin just after midnight ET and last until the moon re-emerges at 5:30am.