Blood Moon dazzles star gazers in longest lunar eclipse of 21st century

NAIROBI, July 27 (Reuters) - A blood-red moon dazzled star gazers across much of the world on Friday when the earth's natural satellite moved into the shadow of our planet for the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st Century.

From the Cape of Good Hope to the Middle East, and from the Kremlin to Sydney Harbour, thousands of people turned their eyes to the stars to watch the moon which turned dark before shining orange, brown and crimson as it moved into the earth's shadow.

The total eclipse will last 1 hour, 42 minutes and 57 seconds, though a partial eclipse preceded and follows, meaning the moon will spend a total of 3 hours and 54 minutes in the earth's umbral shadow, according to NASA.

22 PHOTOS
Blood Moon dazzles star gazers in longest lunar eclipse of 21st century
See Gallery
Blood Moon dazzles star gazers in longest lunar eclipse of 21st century
A "Super Blue Blood Moon" rises during a lunar eclipse over Cairo, Egypt July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
Student astronomy enthusiasts adjust their telescope to see the lunar eclipse of a blood moon at Marina South Pier in Singapore July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A "Super Blue Blood Moon" rises during a lunar eclipse over Cairo, Egypt July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
ANKARA, TURKEY - JULY 27: Composition of several images of the Moon shows the different stages of the Century's longest ''Blood Moon'' eclipse in Ankara, Turkey on July 27, 2018. (Photo by Ali Balikci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A "Super Blue Blood Moon" rises during a lunar eclipse over Cairo, Egypt July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
A general view during a lunar eclipse of "Super Blue Blood Moon" rising over Cairo, Egypt July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
A "Super Blue Blood Moon" rises during a lunar eclipse over Cairo, Egypt July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
A lunar eclipse of a full "Blood Moon" rises behind the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Christopher Pike
A "Super Blue Blood Moon" rises during a lunar eclipse over Cairo, Egypt July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
An astronomy enthusiast looks through a pair of binoculars to see the lunar eclipse of a blood moon at Marina South Pier in Singapore July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A lunar eclipse of a full "Blood Moon" rises near the Oloitoktok town along the Kenya-Tanzania border July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Astronomy enthusiasts wait to see the lunar eclipse of a blood moon at Marina South Pier in Singapore July 28, 2018. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A "Super Blue Blood Moon" rises during a lunar eclipse over Cairo, Egypt July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
A lunar eclipse of a full "Blood Moon" rises behind the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Christopher Pike
A "blood moon" is seen during a full lunar eclipse in Thymari, near Athens, Greece, July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis
People set up the telescopes to observe the Lunar eclipse in Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong on July 28, 2018. - The longest 'blood moon' eclipse this century began on Friday, coinciding with Mars' closest approach in 15 years to treat skygazers across the globe to a thrilling celestial spectacle. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture shows the full moon during a 'blood moon' eclipse as seen from Oloika town in Magadi, Kenya, on July 27, 2018. - The longest 'blood moon' eclipse this century began on July 27, coinciding with Mars' closest approach in 15 years to treat skygazers across the globe to a thrilling celestial spectacle. (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP) (Photo credit should read SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on July 27, 2018 shows the moon during the total lunar eclipse, in the Israeli Mediterranean coastal city of Netanya. - The longest 'blood moon' eclipse this century began on July 27, coinciding with Mars' closest approach in 15 years to treat skygazers across the globe to a thrilling celestial spectacle. Unlike with a solar eclipse, viewers will need no protective eye gear to observe the rare display. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
VAN, TURKEY - JULY 27: The full moon rises behind silhouettes of people prior to the totally phase of Century's longest ''Blood Moon'' eclipse in Van, Turkey on July 27, 2018. (Photo by Ozkan Bilgin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People gather as they wait for the sun to go down and the appearance of the 'Blood moon' in Vienna, Austria on July 27, 2018. - The 'Blood moon' total lunar eclipse, is the longest of the 21st century. (Photo by GEORG HOCHMUTH / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo credit should read GEORG HOCHMUTH/AFP/Getty Images)
VAN, TURKEY - JULY 27: The full moon rises behind silhouette of a man taking a selfie on a bicycle prior to the totally phase of Century's longest ''Blood Moon'' eclipse in Van, Turkey on July 27, 2018. (Photo by Ozkan Bilgin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ANKARA, TURKEY - JULY 27: Composition of several images of the Moon shows the different stages of the Century's longest ''Blood Moon'' eclipse in Ankara, Turkey on July 27, 2018. (Photo by Ercin Top/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The fullest eclipse, at 2022 GMT, was visible from Europe, Russia, Africa, the Middle East, much of Asia and Australia though clouds blocked out the moon in some places.

Reuters photographers charted the moon's rise across the world, from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi to the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, near Athens.

In Nairobi, Kenyans watched as the moon darkened.

"This is what life is all about: Magical moments like this," said Teddy Muthusi as he watched from Uhuru Park in Nairobi. "It’s just beautiful. It’s well worth it."

On the banks of India's Ganges, temples were closed ahead of eclipse. In Singapore, enthusiasts watched through telescopes at the Marina South Pier. Hundreds of people in Australia paid to watch the eclipse from the Sydney Observatory before sunrise.

When the moon moved into the conical shadow of the earth, it went from being illuminated by the sun to being dark. Some light, though, still reaches it because it is bent by the earth's atmosphere.

"It's called a blood moon because the light from the sun goes through the earth's atmosphere on its way to the moon, and the earth's atmosphere turns it red in the same way that when the sun goes down it goes red," Andrew Fabian, professor of astronomy at the University of Cambridge, told Reuters.

At the same time, Mars is traveling closer to earth than it has done since 2003, so some observers may see what looks like an orange-red star - and is in fact the red planet.

"It is a very unusual coincidence to have a total lunar eclipse and Mars at opposition on the same night," said Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society, who watched the eclipse from the Mediterranean Sea.

For thousands of years, man has looked to the heavens for omens of doom, victory and joy. The Bible contains references to the moon turning into blood and some ultra-Orthodox Jews consider lunar eclipses ominous and a cause for moral contemplation.

According to some Hindu beliefs, celestial bodies suc as the sun and moon emit negative energy during an eclipse and so some temples in India were closed to minimize any disturbance.

Astronomers, though, said there was no cause for worry.

"There is no reason to believe that blood moons foretell doom," said Massey. "This does not herald the apocalypse: seeing a lunar eclipse and Mars in the sky is something people should enjoy rather than worry about."

The eclipse of the moon will not be visible from North America or most of the Pacific. The next lunar eclipse of such a length is due in 2123.

(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge in London; Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Amr Abdallah Dalsh in Cairo, Alkis Konstantinidis in Cape Sounion, near Athens, Greece, Christopher Pike in Abu Dhabi and Colin Packham in Sydney. Editing by Hugh Lawson, Andrew Bolton and Andrew Heavens)

Read Full Story