‘Blood Moon’: Lunar Eclipse Wows Viewers In US, South America, And Parts Of Pacific

By Gabrielle Jonas on April 15, 2014 10:41 AM EDT

For those U.S. viewers not beset with clouds or rain, this is the view they were greeted with in Tuesday's night sky. Credit: spaceweather.com
For those U.S. viewers not beset with clouds or rain, this is the view they were greeted with in Tuesday's night sky. Credit: spaceweather.com

Lucky viewers in parts of the United States, and other countries around the world were wowed by a so-called "blood moon" Tuesday -- a lunar eclipse causing the Earth's shadow to shade the moon, turning it appear orange or red, Reuters reported. Eclipses occur bi- or even triannually when the sun, Earth and a full moon line up so that the moon passes through the Earth's shadow.

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The lunar eclipse lasted a little more than three hours beginning at about 2 a.m. EDT, when the moon's orbit first brought it within Earth's shadow. Shortly after 3 a.m. EDT, fortunate viewers from Florida to California were bowled over by the sign of the moon emanating an orange, red, and in some cases, a brown glow -- with coloring depending on how much volcanic ash and other aerosols were floating in the atmosphere, according to SpaceWeather.com . But clouds obscured the show for would-be viewers in New Jersey, Pittsburg and Seattle, as did rain in Atlanta. Unfortuantely for viewers there, the next full lunar eclipse visible from the United States until 2019, according to the U.S. space agency NASA.

But people in South America, Australia, New Zealand were able to take in the gorgeious view. Observers in the western Pacific missed the first half of the eclipse because it occured before their moonrise. Likewise, most of Europe and Africa experienced moonset just as the eclipse began. None of the eclipse was visible from northeastern Europe, eastern Africa, the Middle East or Central Asia, according to NASA.

This is the first of four consecutive total lunar eclipses in 2014 and 2015 Lunar Eclipse Tetrads.The Mmon's orbital trajectory took it through the southern half of Earth's umbral shadow.  At the instant of greatest eclipse, the Moon lay at the zenith for a point in the South Pacific about 3,000 kilometers southwest of the Galapagos Islands. 

The April 15 eclipse is the 56th eclipse of a series of lunar eclipses called, "Saros," that began almost one thousand years ago. This series began on 1022 and is composed of 74 lunar eclipses: 22 penumbral, 8 partial, 28 total, 7 partial, and 9 penumbral eclipses The last eclipse of the series is on 2338 October 29. 

  

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