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Lunar eclipse wows watchers

2010-12-22 03:48:07 GMT2010-12-22 11:48:07 (Beijing Time)

US and Australian skywatchers see a rare total lunar eclipse on shortest day of the year.

US sky watchers enjoy a late night lunar eclipse on the darkest day of the year.

Early Tuesday morning, those under clear skies across the US got a rare view of the moon passing through the shadow of earth on the winter equinox, which is shortest day of the year.

But according to astronomers, that's not the only thing that makes this total eclipse unique.

"Any lunar eclipse is interesting because the atmosphere changes how it looks, every eclipse has its own particular properties, that makes it interesting. The fact that it falls on the winter solstice is kind of unusual, it adds some colour to the whole event, and then for Los Angeles, southern California, this whole west coast longitude, this is the highest lunar eclipse that we've had since 419 A.D. If we could see this eclipse, we'd be putting our heads way up to the sky to look at it."

The eclipse began 1:30am on the East Coast and 10:30pm Monday evening on the West Coast.

As the shadow covered the moon, a rusty, red tinge outlined earth's only satellite.

Australian beach goers in the east also got a last glimpse of the eclipse as darkness fell Tuesday night.

A full lunar eclipse on winter solstice will not take place again until 2094.

The last occurrence was in 1638.

Jessica Gray, Reuters

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