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Sky-watchers get rare treat: total lunar eclipse

By Suhin Thanawala

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Dec. 10 2011 11:31 a.m. MST

A lunar eclipse is seen in the sky beside a statue of Buddha in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011.

Eranga Jayawardena, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Moon watchers in the western U.S., Hawaii and elsewhere across the globe were treated Saturday to a rare celestial phenomenon: a total lunar eclipse.

For 51 minutes starting at 6:06 a.m. PST, the Earth's shadow completely blocked the moon.

The moon took on a reddish glow, as some indirect sunlight continued to reach it after passing through the Earth's atmosphere. Since the atmosphere scatters blue light, only red light strikes the moon, giving it an eerie crimson hue.

The last total lunar eclipse was on June 15 although that was not visible from the United States. The next one is on April 15, 2014 and will be seen in the U.S.

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