Amazing pictures: Behind a spectacular total lunar eclipse

Britain to Argentina, China to Australia — everyone was treated to a stunning total lunar eclipse on Monday night. People were astonished at the pictures from Australia that show Earth’s shadow completely blocking out…

Amazing pictures: Behind a spectacular total lunar eclipse

Britain to Argentina, China to Australia — everyone was treated to a stunning total lunar eclipse on Monday night.

People were astonished at the pictures from Australia that show Earth’s shadow completely blocking out the sun while a ring of stars around the Earth’s shadow appeared.

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“Wow, this lunar eclipse is just magical,” British film director Neil Blomkamp said on his Twitter feed.

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Mississippi resident Madeline Julian marveled at a photograph of the lunar eclipse snapped near Shreveport, Louisiana, said that it was quite a sight when the sun briefly disappeared behind the moon.

“It was stunning. I was amazed at the size of the shadow and the colors. It was just amazing,” she said.

Monday’s eclipse, starting in Western Europe and ending over the North American continent, was the longest of four lunar eclipses this year and one of three in a row that will peak on Thursday.

The event, though spectacular, was hardly remarkable in technical terms, scientists said.

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“It is not the biggest one. Usually eclipses are four or five hours long,” Colleen O’Brien, a NASA spokesman in Huntsville, Alabama, said.

The moon — or in this case the sun, earth and moon — travels on a path where the earth’s shadow falls on it about once every 90 minutes, sometimes lasting more than a day.

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The moon takes a step out of the shadow when it is in the fullest phase of the eclipse and can still reflect the light of the sun, so skywatchers can see the moon’s entire surface — even as the sun and stars disappear.

“It looks like you are actually looking at the sun through the moon,” O’Brien said.

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The moon passed through a part of Earth’s shadow that was larger than usual, which NASA said meant better views for some skywatchers.

NASA’s Earl Maize said eclipse watchers in the Americas, Africa and Australia, were likely to be treated to “very close and very dramatic eclipse viewing.”

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