Moon watchers in the western US, Hawaii, and elsewhere across the globe were treated yesterday 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 a crimson hue.
At the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, some 300 people, many clutching coffee cups in the frigid morning air, sat with blankets and chairs on the observatory's great lawn. "It's a celestial festival out here," one sky-watcher said as he set up his camera. The owner of a PR firm in Hawaii said the cloudy weather cleared just in time for the eclipse: "Sure enough it was turning that orangy-red color," said a man living in Hawaii. "To be able to see it just right outside our house was really cool." (Read more lunar eclipse stories.)