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A total eclipse of the moon

Luis Acosta / AFP - Getty Images

This combination of pictures shows the moon in various stages of a total lunar eclipse as seen from Mexico City on Dec. 21. This eclipse takes place just hours before the December solstice, which marks the beginning of northern winter and southern summer.

Jose Cabezas / AFP - Getty Images

A double expousure picture shows the moon and the monument of The Savior of The World during a total lunar eclipse as seen from San Salvador, El Salvador on Dec. 21.

Kim Shiflett / NASA

Space shuttle Discovery waits to roll back from Launch Pad 39A to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the early morning hours of Dec 21, with the beginning of the total lunar eclipse clearly in view.

Once inside the VAB, Discovery's external fuel tank will be examined and foam reapplied where 89 sensors were installed on the tank's aluminum skin for an instrumented tanking test on Dec. 17. The sensors were used to measure changes in the tank as super-cold propellants were pumped in and drained out. Data and analysis from the test will be used to determine what caused the tops of two, 21-foot-long support beams, called stringers, on the outside of the intertank to crack during fueling on Nov. 5. Discovery's next launch opportunity is no earlier than Feb. 3, 2011.

Patrick Pleul / AFP - Getty Images

This combo of photos shows, left, the full moon behind clouds and, right, the earth's shadow casting over the moon a few minutes later during a lunar eclipse on early Dec. 21, seen from the northeastern German town of Petersdorf.

Seth Wenig / AP

The moon on its way to being totally eclipsed is seen with the Chrysler Building in the foreground in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 21. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth casts its shadow on the full moon, blocking the sun's rays that otherwise reflect off the moon's surface.

Don Emmert / AFP - Getty Images

A halo or icebow appears around the moon in the sky above a home in the Bronx borough of New York City Dec. 20. The phenomenon is caused by the refraction of the light of the moon by ice crystals in the air.

Juan Carlos Ulate / Reuters

The moon is seen over a Christmas tree during a total lunar eclipse as seen from San Jose, Dec. 21.

Bill Ingalls / Nasa / Handout / EPA

The Washington Monument as the full moon is shadowed by the Earth during a total lunar eclipse on the arrival of the winter solstice, Dec. 21 in Washington D.C. From beginning to end, the eclipse lasted about three hours and twenty-eight minutes.

Desiree Martin / AFP - Getty Images

The volcano Teide is pictured on Dec. 21 during a total lunar eclipse, in the National Park of Teide on the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife.

Doug Murray / Reuters

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 Dec. 21.

Did you watch the total lunar eclipse? For more incredible space images view our Year in Space slideshow.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson walks you through the stunning beauty of the first lunar eclipse to land on the winter solstice since 1638.