Longest "blood moon" eclipse this century dazzles skygazers

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The blood moon phenomena is the longest such event of the 21st century.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow from the opposite side of the Sun.

A combination photo shows the lunar eclipse from a blood moon (top L) back to full moon (bottom right) in the sky over Frankfurt, Germany.

Australians eager to catch a glimpse of a once-in-a-lifetime "blood moon" set their alarms for early on Saturday morning in order to catch the 4.24am eclipse.

But Robert Massey, from the Royal Astronomical Society, reassured the doubters.

The eclipse started at 17:14 GMT, and totality began at 19:30 GMT.

Sources said from 11.45 pm, people were staring at the sky and the white moon was playing hide-and-seek with the clouds in Chennai. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the eclipse transformed the moon into a reddish orange colour for more than 100 minutes.

"There is no reason to believe Blood Moons foretell doom", he said.

He said the eclipse went for a "long" 104 minutes mainly because it "went through the centre of the shadow, [meaning] it had a longer path that it had to take to get through the shadow" and the moon is at its furthest point from the Earth. The Penumbra Eclipse ended at 7.28am but was no longer visible as the moon was already below the horizon.

"The moon turned a lovely crimson red colour in the west and Mars was just above and left of it, looking a yellow-orange colour", he told ABC News. A total lunar eclipse happens when Earth takes position in a straight line between the moon and sun, blotting out the direct sunlight that normally makes our satellite glow whitish-yellow.

While many local astronomers headed for the high hills and clear skies of the Drakensberg for the viewing, the eclipse was visible to anyone who had their eye on the moon.

If you are in a location where the eclipse will be seen, you do not need any special sunglasses or other protective gear like you would for a solar eclipse, since lunar eclipses are not anywhere near the same as looking at the sun.

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