Sky-watchers get rare treat: total lunar eclipse

December 10, 2011 - 2:22 PM
Lunar Eclipse

Photographers shoot the moon as it sets in eclipse over the Golden Gate Bridge Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, in San Francisco. The next full eclipse of the moon will not happen until April 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — 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.