The blood moon passes over the National Mall in Washington, D.C. early Wednesday morning, October 8, 2014.
The moon blushed red for sky-watchers across North America and much of the Pacific region early this morning, offering prime views of a total lunar eclipse. (Video: “Time-Lapse: Blood Moon Over The National Mall.”)
For more than two hours, the Earth’s shadow seemingly gobbled up the moon, slowly creeping across the silvery disk and turning it a dusky hue. The much-anticipated change of color is responsible for the “blood moon” nickname for the eclipse.
While viewers in the eastern parts of North America watched the first half of the sky show as the moon set around sunrise, onlookers out west were fortunate enough to witness all the phases of the second total lunar eclipse of the year.
If you missed this week’s eclipse of the moon, don’t fear. The eclipse was only the second of a series of four lunar disappearing acts on tap over the next year. Mark your calendar for April 5, 2015, as your next chance to see a blood moon.
In the meantime, here are some eye-catching shots from this morning’s eclipse that folks are sharing on Twitter.
— virginia_tech (@virginia_tech) October 8, 2014
This morning’s lunar eclipse over Albany, NY pic.twitter.com/Spngtu6aNj
— Louis Suarato (@LouisS) October 8, 2014
— Maryland Athletics (@umterps) October 8, 2014
Canadians lucky enough to get a break in the clouds also got amazing views.
— David T. Chapman (@DTChapmanPics) October 8, 2014
Wilderness areas offered stunning photo opportunities.
— YellowstoneNPS (@YellowstoneNPS) October 8, 2014
Check out this montage of the various phases of the eclipse as the full moon slid through Earth’s shadow cone.
— Observing Space (@ObservingSpace) October 8, 2014
Many people are surprised to learn that the moon is visible during totality, despite its passage through the deepest part of Earth’s shadow. Because sunlight travels through the ring of atmosphere around Earth, the starshine is scattered through suspended dust particles and shifts the light toward the red part of the spectrum. As a result, the light that exits the other side of the atmosphere, and is projected onto the moon, appears red.
This effect is beautifully visible in the snapshot below from Ohio.
— 10TV.com (@10TV) October 8, 2014
— Penang State Tourism (@VisitPenang) October 8, 2014
Meanwhile, keen-eyed sky-hounds with binoculars also may have noticed a tiny 5th magnitude greenish star next to the moon during totality when the sky went dark. That tiny star to the left of the moon in the photo below is in fact the planet Uranus, which sits some 1.74 billion miles (2.8 billion kilometers) away from Earth.
— AWHarris (@doubleacr) October 8, 2014
What a way to start the day!