SHAFAQNA- Evening viewers in much of Asia and early risers in parts of the Americas were treated to a stunning lunar eclipse, though clouds obscured it for some.
Lucky ones saw the moon turn orange or red Wednesday in what is known as a “blood moon.”
Astronomer Geoff Wyatt at the Sydney Observatory in Australia called it “very spectacular.” The clouds blocked the view at times, but he said the moon turned a “lovely reddish brown.”
In Japan, clear skies turned partly cloudy as the eclipse progressed, but people gathered on the rooftops of skyscrapers in Tokyo saw the moon turn a rusty brown when the clouds cleared.
Total lunar eclipses occur twice a year, but they aren’t visible everywhere on Earth at the same time. Wednesday saw the second of a tetrad of lunar eclipses. The first was in April.
The eclipse started at about 4 a.m. EDT and ended when the sun rose on the East coast.
NASA moon experts stayed up all night answering questions on a live stream of the eclipse, which started at around 3 a.m. EDT.
Before an eclipse in April, North America hadn’t seen a total lunar eclipse since 2011, Andrew Fazekas, a spokesman for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, said.
“We’ve actually had this cosmic dry spell that we’ve been under that’s lasted over two and a half years now,” he said in a recent interview.
Fazekas noted that North America has been out of luck while Asia and Africa have had their share of such eclipses.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, the Earth and the moon are in perfect alignment so that the Earth’s shadow completely covers the surface of the moon.
“You can see this one — even within city limits — just using your eyes,” Fazekas explained.
“You don’t need binoculars and it’s totally safe to see a lunar eclipse. It’s not like a solar eclipse — you can watch it with your naked eyes.”
A solar eclipse happens when the moon comes between Earth and the sun and blocks the sun.
Watching it directly without special precautions can be harmful.
The moon will appear orange or red, the result of sunlight scattering off Earth’s atmosphere. That’s why it’s called a blood moon.
Although the eclipse has been described as a “blood moon” or a “red moon,” Fazekas also said the actual colour of the eclipse is hard to predict because that’s influenced by the levels of pollutants and dust that are floating around the Earth’s atmosphere.
“The more dust there is, the deeper orange and red will be the colour of the lunareclipse,” he added. “It varies from one event to the other and we’ll just have to go outside and see for ourselves exactly what colour this lunar eclipse will be.
There’ll be two full lunar eclipses again next year.