Eclipse lovers treated to rare 'blood moon'
Published Tuesday, April 15, 2014 8:32AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 15, 2014 9:19AM EDT
While most of us were sleeping, star-gazers across the Western hemisphere were up overnight trying to catch a glimpse of the rare "blood moon" eclipse.
As the sun, Earth and the moon moved into perfect alignment, eclipse lovers snapped dozens of pics of our planetary satellite. Their images, uploaded to Twitter and to NASA’s Lunar Eclipse Flickr page, showed the moon in every shade, from grey to bright orange, depending on where they were and when they snapped their shots.
There was disappointment across a big swath of eastern and central Canada and the U.S., as rain clouds obscured views, but the skies were more clear over the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, where NASA's live stream of the eclipse originated.
NASA's video showed the moon growing darker as it fell into the Earth’s shadow just before 2 a.m. ET Tuesday. Then, as the eclipse reached its peak between 3 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., the moon began to glow an eerie copper, as sunlight bent across our Earth’s atmosphere, much like the sun turns the clouds red during a sunrise or sunset.
NASA has described the phenomenon as though a person standing on the moon were "seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once."
On average, lunar eclipses occur about twice a year, though not all of them are the total eclipses seen last night.
If you missed this eclipse, you’re in luck as there are still a few more chances to come. Earth is in the midst of “tetrad,” or four total eclipses in a row. There will be three more total lunar eclipses over the next two years, at approximately six-month intervals. The next one is expected on Oct. 8 and will be is visible over North America, Australia, and east Asia.
And according to NASA’s eclipse experts, the 21st century will see a bumber crop of tetrads: eight this century – a rather high number given that during the 300 years between 1600 and 1900, for instance, there were no tetrads at all.