(Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
On the night of 20 December or early on the morning of 21 December, depending on your location, many around the world were able to witness a phenomenal and rare total lunar eclipse, watching as the Earth passed directly between the sun and the full moon, shrouding it in shadow and transforming the white image into a stunning deep red glow. The event was especially significant as it coincided with the winter solstice, something that hasn't occurred in 372 years, and won't come around again until 2094.
See lunar eclipse photo collection on Huffington Post
Scientists have used lunar eclipses to advance the study of chemicals necessary for life in the universe. Two teams of astronomers have been using the effects of the eclipse to figure out what Earth might look like as a distant, extrasolar planet orbiting another star. By analyzing the light reflected off the moon during a lunar eclipse -- light that has passed through Earth's atmosphere -- they have detected gases in the atmosphere that indicate the presence of organic life on the planet.
How the lunar eclipse helps the search for extraterrestrial life (Christian Science Monitor)
NASA Eclipse website