World looks to the skies as 'blood moon' eclipse begins

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After that, the shadow of the Earth will slowly retreat across the lunar surface until the partial eclipse comes to completion at 11.19pm.

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. There will also be some time before and after when the moon is in the lighter part of Earth's shadow, which is called the penumbra. This month, Mars will be at its closest to Earth since 2003.

The moon travels to a similar position every month, but the tilt of its orbit means it normally passes above or below the Earth's shadow.

The total eclipse lasts 1 hour and 43 minutes, with the entire event lasting closer to four hours.

Avid astronomers and amateur stargazers the world over were treated to an incredible lunar light show when the moon transformed from its usual bright color to an orb of burned orange and red for almost two hours.

The eclipse will have been visible from Africa to the Middle East, Europe, Russia, India, and Australia. Southern parts of the country were likely to have clear weather.

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They were rewarded by the spectacular sight of the moon turned a unique blood colour by the longest eclipse this century. - AFP A man looks at the moon eclipse through a telescope over Copacabana Fortress in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Moon will begin a long journey through Earth's shadow on Friday afternoon, with the complete trip taking just over 6 hours. The atmosphere filters out most of the sun's blue light, so the moon looks red. The next similar lunar eclipse is speculated to witness in 2123.

The eclipse will be the longest in the 21st Century, starting at 10.44 pm and ending over six hours later, at 4.58 am on Saturday. - AFP A fishermen boat crosses the reflection of the moonlight during the moon eclipse in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In a lunar eclipse, the Earth stands between its natural satellite and the Sun. "This does not herald the apocalypse: seeing a lunar eclipse and Mars in the sky is something people should enjoy rather than worry about mediaeval superstitions".

Around the world, stargazers and keen photographers made the most of the chance to capture the blood moon against stunning and historic backdrops.

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