WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — In the end, the buildup seemed to eclipse the finale.
People across New Zealand and around the world stayed up Wednesday to watch a cosmic event called a super blood moon, a combination of a total lunar eclipse and a brighter-than-usual supermoon.
During the buildup, a glittering moon rose above the horizon. As the Earth’s shadow began taking bites from the moon, it created a dramatic effect. Half the moon vanished, leaving it looking like a black-and-white cookie.
When the full eclipse took hold, however, the moon darkened, turning a smudgy burnt orange color for many viewers.
In celestial terms, it was a wonder: a projection of the world’s sunsets and sunrises onto the black canvas of the eclipsed moon. But for people peering up from their backyards, it wasn’t quite the brilliant display they’d anticipated. Not quite super or blood-colored.
“It was not that vivid for those on ground,” said Ben Noll, a meteorologist with New Zealand scientific research agency NIWA. “Personally, I thought there would be a bit more red in the sky.”
Still, Noll thought that overall, the evening was sensational. He heard plenty of people cheering and cars honking in downtown Auckland where he watched it all unfold.
John Rowe, an educator at the Stardome Observatory & Planetarium in Auckland, said it was like the moon turned into a big, spooky smile looking down at him. That’s because of a bright rim that remained at the bottom.
Rowe also enjoyed seeing surrounding stars appear to brighten as the light from the moon dimmed.
The full eclipse lasted about 15 minutes, while the whole cosmic show lasted five hours. A partial eclipse began as the moon edged into the Earth’s outer shadow, called the penumbra, before moving more fully into the main shadow and then reversing the process.
Rowe likes to imagine it as if he’s standing on the moon. The Earth would come across and block out the sun. The reddish light around the edges would be the sunsets and sunrises happening at that time on Earth, projected onto the moon’s surface. Pretty cool, he reckons.
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Source: Associated Press