SEATTLE -- The last total lunar eclipse of the year occurred early Saturday morning. There won't be another one for three years.
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 a crimson hue.
In an unusual occurrence, some people may actually have seen see both the moon and the sunrise at the same time. It sounds impossible since a lunar eclipse means the Earth is directly between the moon and the sun, thereby blocking the sun’s rays.
According to space.com, it’s due to atmospheric refraction, which causes objects to appear higher in the sky than they actually are. The Earth’s atmosphere acts like a lens, so even when the sun is just below the horizon, we can see it before it has actually risen. The same principle is true for the moon. The key, however, is to be looking upon a flat horizon.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon goes through the long shadow cast by the Earth and is blocked from the sunlight that illuminates it.
The last total lunar eclipse was on June 15 although that was not visible from the U.S. The next one is on April 15, 2014, and will be seen in the U.S.