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WOW!DEC 20, 2010 - Solstice Lunar Eclipse is a NASA heads-up on this week's very rare winter solstice eclipse. How rare? The last one, says astronomer Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory, took place on December 21, 1638. "Fortunately," says Chester, "we won't have to wait 372 years for the next one . . . that will be on Dec. 21, 2094." (Grumble, grumble: I'm not gonna make that one. Unless maybe I can arrange to have my head frozen immediately post mortem, then defrosted and sutured up to a monkey body just in time.) Those of us in North America are well positioned to catch a glimpse of this week's lunar eclipse, weather permitting. (Aye, there's the rub.) The eclipse takes place from 2:41 to 3:53 AM EST on Tuesday morning, December 21. Those of us in the west can - again, weather permitting - catch a glimpse of the eclipse and still get to bed at something like a decent hour: it's 12:41 to 1:53 AM in the Mountain time zone, 11:51 PM on the night of the 20th to 12:53 AM on the morning of the 21st Pacific time. I'm for sure setting an alarm if it's clear here in the desert Monday night into the wee hours of Tuesday morning, as I expect it will be. (I'm not taking a chance on that monkey body stuff.) Eclipses are notable for reasons astrological as well as astronomical. For my take on the astrology of this one, please see the appropriate section of my December forecast. For example, expect "a new round of storm and seismic headlines: magnitude 5+ earthquakes (in some cases accompanied by tsunami), volcanic eruptions, and powerful storms with high winds and heavy precipitation (with flood and landslide potential)." (This is why I mentioned "weather permitting" earlier.) There's more to this than weather and seismicity, as noted in my December forecast: you can expect "storms of the atmospheric variety (as well as the financial and political sort)," lasting out into the 27th. (This has been in effect since the 18th, actually. Compare my December forecast - published last month - with the headlines of the past few days.)

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