ORLANDO, Fla. – A total lunar eclipse graced the night skies overnight, providing longer than usual thrills for stargazers across North and South America.
The celestial action unfolded Sunday night into early Monday morning, with the moon bathed in the reflected red and orange hues of Earth’s sunsets and sunrises for about 1 1/2 hours, one of the longest totalities of the decade. It was first so-called blood moon in a year.
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Observers in Florida and the eastern half of North America and all of Central and South America had prime seats for the whole show.
“This is really an eclipse for the Americas,” said NASA’s Noah Petro, a planetary geologist who specializes in the moon.
A total eclipse occurs when Earth passes directly between the moon and the sun, and casts a shadow on our constant, cosmic companion. The moon was 225,000 miles away at the peak of the eclipse — around midnight on the U.S. East Coast.
There will be another lengthy total lunar eclipse in November, with Africa and Europe lucking out again, but not the Americas. Then the next one isn’t until 2025.
Launched last fall, NASA’s asteroid-seeking Lucy spacecraft will photograph this weekend’s event from 64 million miles (103 million kilometers) away, as ground controllers continue their effort to fix a loose solar panel.