A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes behind the earth so that the earth blocks the sun’s rays from striking the moon. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, there is always a full moon the night of a lunar eclipse. Add to this a Winter solstice and you’ve got a very special event happening. Last night was the first night since 1638 this happened and the images of the moon are amazing.

Total Lunar Eclipse

01. The Moon is engulfed in the Earth's shadow as it nears the peak of a rare winter solstice total lunar eclipse as viewed through a telescope from Palm Beach Gardens December 21, 2010. REUTERS/Doug Murray

Total Lunar Eclipse

02. The moon is seen above New York before a full lunar eclipse December 20, 2010. The eclipse will be the first to coincide with the Winter Solstice since 1638. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Total Lunar Eclipse

03. The Moon is completely eclipsed at 0239 a.m. EST (0739 GMT) in Great Falls, Virginia just outside Washington December 21, 2010 during a lunar eclipse. During the eclipse, the Earth lined up directly between the Sun and the Moon, casting Earth's shadow over the Moon. REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

Total Lunar Eclipse

04. The shadow of the Earth is seen on the Moon at the start of a total lunar eclipse seen from a spot near Edinburgh, Scotland December 21, 2010. REUTERS/David Moir

Total Lunar Eclipse

05. The shadow of the Earth is seen on the Moon at the start of a total lunar eclipse seen from a spot near Edinburgh, Scotland December 21, 2010. REUTERS/David Moir

Total Lunar Eclipse

06. The shadow of the Earth is seen on the Moon during a total lunar eclipse seen from a spot near Edinburgh, Scotland December 21, 2010. REUTERS/David Moir

Total Lunar Eclipse

07. The shadow of the Earth is seen on the Moon during a total lunar eclipse seen from a spot near Edinburgh, Scotland December 21, 2010. REUTERS/David Moir

Total Lunar Eclipse

08. The shadow of the Earth is seen on the Moon during a total lunar eclipse seen from near Calvine, Perthshire, Scotland December 21, 2010. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Total Lunar Eclipse

09. The shadow of the Earth is seen on the Moon at the start of a total lunar eclipse seen from a spot near Edinburgh, Scotland December 21, 2010. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Total Lunar Eclipse

10. The Moon is engulfed in the Earth's shadow during the peak of a rare winter solstice total lunar eclipse as viewed through a telescope from Palm Beach Gardens December 21, 2010. REUTERS/Doug Murray

Total Lunar Eclipse

11. The shadow of the Earth is seen on the Moon during a total lunar eclipse over Calvine, Perthshire, Scotland December 21, 2010. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Total Lunar Eclipse

12. The shadow of the Earth falls across the face of the Moon above New York during a full lunar eclipse December 21, 2010. The eclipse is the first to coincide with the Winter Solstice since 1638. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Total Lunar Eclipse

13. The shadow of the Earth falls across the face of the Moon above New York during a full lunar eclipse December 21, 2010. The eclipse is the first to coincide with the Winter Solstice since 1638. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Total Lunar Eclipse

14. The Moon is seen above New York during a full lunar eclipse December 21, 2010. The eclipse will be the first to coincide with the Winter Solstice since 1638. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Total Lunar Eclipse

15. The shadow of the Earth falls across the face of the Moon above New York during a full lunar eclipse December 21, 2010. The eclipse is the first to coincide with the Winter Solstice since 1638. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Total Lunar Eclipse

16. A combination of photographs shows the gradual lunar eclipse ending with a total eclipse as seen over the skies of Mexico City December 21, 2010. During the eclipse, the Earth lined up directly between the Sun and the Moon, casting Earth's shadow over the Moon. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Dec 21, 2010