Last Wednesday morning, well-educated astronomers and amateur star-gazers alike had much to marvel about.
Starting at 4:17 AM Eastern Time and lasting until sunrise, a total lunar eclipse was visible for viewers in the Americas, Australia, and most of Asia. During a lunar eclipse, the Moon passes into the Earth's shadow and goes through many visible changes during its journey.
Though there were no noticeable effects from the lunar eclipse on the Moon at 4:17 AM, this is when the Moon entered the penumbral shadow of the Earth. The penumbra is the outer-most part of Earth's shadow, as shown in the diagram below.
At 5:18 AM, the moon began going through visible changes. The top left corner had turned black as the Moon passed into the Earth's umbra. Gradually, over the span of an hour, more and more of the Moon became encompassed in the Earth's shadow. By 6:24 AM, the Moon had fully eclipsed and turned reddish-orange in color. During this phase, the moon is often called a "Blood Moon." At 7:22 AM, the Moon began exiting the umbra and eventually reverted back to its usual yellowish color.
Total lunar eclipses only occur on rare occasions when the Earth, Sun, and Moon align. Also, for an eclipse to be visible, the Moon has to be in its full phase. These special conditions are not met often, and they are an incredible sight to witness and record.
Unfortunately, I did not have an advanced enough camera to take decent photographs of the eclipse, but the fabulous astronomers at space.com scavenged several breathtaking pictures that photograph the October 8th eclipse beautifully.
Below are several of the images posted on the website. For more photographs, follow the link found in my sources from space.com.
If you missed this total lunar eclipse, do not fret! The next one will be visible for most of the world (sorry, Australia) September 28, 2015. It may require waking early, but it is worth it to see one of the most beautiful astronomical events visible from Earth.
Author's Note: Sources: http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/lunar/2014-october-8