Millions watch 'blood moon' rise in total lunar eclipse

Moon totally eclipsed for five minutes in shortest lunar eclipse this century

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The Independent US

Millions of stargazers watched today's 'blood moon' in the shortest lunar eclipse this century.

A partial eclipse was visible to the entire united states as the moon entered Earth's shadow at 6.16am Eastern Daylight Saving Time - five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time - according to NASA.

Those west of the Mississippi river were expected to have the best views of the event in which the moon turned blood red  before disappearing for five minutes in a total lunar eclipse.

It could also be viewed in parts of Asia and Australasia but couldn't be seen at all in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, but more than 13-million people watched NASA's live streaming of the event, filmed form the Marshall Space Flight Facility in Alabama.

 

This was the third lunar eclipse in a series of four, known as a tetrad. The first two were in April and September last year, with the final eclipse in the cycle on September 28 this year.

For a lunar eclipse to occur, the Sun, Earth and Moon must align roughly in a straight line. 

Even though the Earth completely blocks sunlight from directly reaching the surface of the Moon, it's still visible to the naked eye. The Earth's atmosphere refracts sunlight which lights up the moon's surface, but the atmosphere removes certain elements of the light spectrum, giving it the red colouring that millions witnessed today.

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