When to Catch Tonight's Lunar Eclipse

A lunar eclipse in 2008, as seen from Portland, Oregon.
A lunar eclipse in 2008, as seen from Portland, Oregon.

You can put away the fake fangs and I (heart) Edward T-shirts -- we're talking astronomy, not the latest vampire fantasy installment.

Tonight (and tomorrow morning, depending on your time zone) marks Winter Solstice and the year's second lunar eclipse. It's the year's second lunar eclipse and the first total lunar eclipse to take place at the same time as Winter Solstice in almost 400 years.

Check out when it's visible in Phoenix after the jump ...

In case you didn't make one of those foam ball mobiles in elementary school, a lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and moon are aligned exactly, so that the earth (in the middle) blocks the sun's rays from the moon.

Winter Solstice, or the first day of winter, occurs when the earth's axial tilt is the farthest from the sun. It's also associated with cultural festivals and rituals.

While there are 12 total phases of tonight's eclipse, the beginning of the total eclipse is expected to start around 12:40 a.m. (Tuesday) and last until 1:30 a.m.. Because of the way the moon passes through the two shadows of the earth, it will appear glowing orange-red, and unlike a solar eclipse, tonight's lunar eclipse is safe to view with the naked eye.

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