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Blood Moon’ Eclipse Dazzles Skywatchers

Image: Lunar eclipse in Thailand
An aircraft flies past a lunar eclipse over the sky in the Pathum Thani province, on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand, April 4. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, the earth and moon line up in a constallation in which the moon on its way around the eartch moves through the planet's shadow. This was the shortest lunar eclipse of the century. RUNGROJ YONGRIT / EPA

The total eclipse of the moon lasted only a short time, but it still dazzled.

Early risers in the western U.S. and Canada should have been able to catch a glimpse before dawn Saturday. The moment when the moon was completely obscured by Earth's shadow lasted several minutes, making it the shortest lunar eclipse of the century.

A total lunar eclipse is sometimes called a blood moon because of the red color that is cast upon it by light refracting in Earth's atmosphere.

Some skygazers complained that clouds prevented them from seeing any of the 3½-hour lunar show. People in eastern Australia, New Zealand and Japan viewed the eclipse at night.

The total eclipse was unusually brief because the moon passed through the upper part of Earth's shadow. Longer eclipses occur when the moon passes through the middle of the shadow.

The next total lunar eclipse will occur in September.

Image: Total Lunar Eclipse in Bali, Indonesia
People sitting in a hut watch a full moon during a lunar eclipse as it is seen in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, April 4. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon on its way around the Earth moves through the planet's shadow cast by the sun in opposing position. MADE NAGI / EPA
Image:
A partially eclipsed full moon sets behind a statue of a Kansa Indian at the Kansas Statehouse, Saturday, April 4, in Topeka, Kan. The moment when the moon was completely obscured by Earth’s shadow lasted several minutes, making it the shortest lunar eclipse of the century. Charlie Riedel / AP
Image: Lunar Eclipse Viewed from Indonesia
In this composite image the moon is seen as it emerges from a total lunar eclipse on April 4, in Surabaya, Indonesia. A total lunar eclipse is sometimes called a blood moon because of the red color that is cast upon it by light refracting in Earth's atmosphere. The lunar eclipse, resulting in the moon appearing to be an orange-red colour is due to a perfect alignment of the Sun, Earth and Moon, otherwise known as syzygy, and this is the first of four in a rare Tetrad of eclipses over the next two years. Robertus Pudyanto / Getty Images Contributor
— The Associated Press