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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 May, 2004, 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK
Cloudy skies dash eclipse hopes
The Moon takes on a red tinge, AP
Colour depends on dust levels in the Earth's atmosphere
Most UK skywatchers will have been left disappointed during Tuesday night's total eclipse of the Moon.

Cloudy skies meant the event, which was already under way as the Moon rose, would only have been seen by a few.

For those who did snatch a glimpse, a dim reddish-brown disc was visible climbing above the south-east horizon.

Areas in the east of England had the best chance of spotting the eclipse but cloud swathes of Scotland, Northern Ireland and south-west England.

The total lunar eclipse began at 2052 BST and ended at 2208 BST.

TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE
Graphic showing how an eclipse works, BBC
Occurs when Moon passes into Earth's shadow
Penumbra: Region where Earth blocks some (but not all) Sun rays
Umbra: Zone where Earth blocks all direct sunlight - total eclipse

Those who were left disappointed have to wait only another five months before the next opportunity - the show is repeated in October.

Lunar eclipses occur when the Sun, Earth and Moon are in a near-perfect line in space.

The Moon travels through the long cone-shaped shadow the Earth casts in space.

The only light that can reach the Moon's surface at this point has been refracted through our planet's atmosphere. This light takes on a red tinge - depending on the amount of dust in the Earth's atmosphere.

In November last year, a total lunar eclipse was visible from Europe, Africa, the Americas and much of Asia.


We asked for your comments about the eclipse. The following reflect the balance of opinion we received.

People throughout history have held certain beliefs because of the change in the colour of the moon
S Brown, Knaresborough England
I only just managed to see the eclipse. The moon definitely appeared to be reddish/brown. Quite strange to look at and I can understand how people throughout history have held certain beliefs because of the change in the colour of the moon.
S Brown, Knaresborough England

We had an excellent time watching the eclipse last night. We had a pleasant BBQ in the garden and some cold beers. There was a thin layer of clouds in front of the moon for some of the time, but this just added to the effect. Best I've seen.
Ed Cooper, Lusaka, Zambia

We had a perfect view of the night sky from here, no light pollution and no clouds. We sat out enjoying the view for a few hours. The best view was around midnight, quite an eerie sight.
Soldier D, Basrah, Iraq

The wind was howling and the surf was crashing; adding to the experience
David Gonzales, Brighton
The sky was glowing red and the moon was in a blurry, shadowed, and diminished state. It was quite a site to be walking the sea front in Brighton and looking up at the "burning" sky. The wind was howling and the surf was crashing; adding to the experience.
David Gonzales, Brighton

I saw it from Southern Sweden around 10pm local time. The moon was a dark orange colour but visible as a complete circle. It was rather bizarre but awe-inspiring too.
Mario Hinksman, Olofstrom, Sweden

This reminds me of when I was kid and my Grandfather told a story that when this happened it meant that the moon was fighting against the sun and the earth.
Anon, Tanzania

I saw the eclipse as I was going to bed just after 11pm. The moon was ice white with a bite out of one side. I could hear the chanting of prayers from the nearby mosque, a tradition during eclipses - very peaceful.
Liz, Al Ain, UAE

A muddy looking moon was just about visible here in the Valleys of Wales for a few minutes before the clouds thickened again.
Richard Clark, Aberdare, Wales

The Moon was a beautiful orange-pink colour and the clouds did not come back again until after the eclipse had ended
Tom, St Andrews, Scotland

We saw it out here in east London, between the clouds. It was really nice...
Jane Turvey, London, England

I was about to give up waiting for the clouds to go away and it started to rain when the Moon was supposed to be rising. But 30 minutes before the end of the total phase of the eclipse, the clouds abandoned the eastern sky! The Moon was a beautiful orange-pink colour and the clouds did not come back again until after the eclipse had ended.
Tom, St Andrews, Scotland

It looked beautiful and a bit strange because we weren't expecting it
Ger and Ciaran, Co Waterford, Ireland
At first I thought the cloud would win but I kept looking outside every 15 minutes and was finally rewarded about 2145 BST. It looked very similar to the image for this article! I did not appreciate that the penumbra does not have a sharp edge as in a solar eclipse.
Peter Gregory, Smallfield, Surrey, England

We saw some of it, at about 11pm. It was quarter-eclipsed in a partially clouded sky and it looked beautiful and a bit strange because we weren't expecting it. Not a disappointment at all, more like a pleasant surprise!
Ger and Ciaran, Co Waterford, Ireland

It's not only in the UK that there were problems with the weather. We were in thick cloud for most of the time at totality. At least I did get to see the partial solar eclipse which was visible in the southern hemisphere a couple of weeks ago.
Jon, Sutherland, South Africa

The weather today was perfect and we had a great view over here. We saw the whole process and it's a great experience seeing one of nature's more beautiful views.
Juan, Moscow

It looked good to the naked eye
David Owen, Brisbane, Australia
The eclipse started a couple of hours before dawn here in clear skies, reaching totality just before the first daylight appeared. Unfortunately I was at work at the time, so took no pics! It looked good to the naked eye, though.
David Owen, Brisbane, Australia

Between 5am and 6am this morning, it was very clear in the sky. The Moon was setting at the time but it was still stunning.
Paul Gribben, Brisbane, Australia

I got up at 5am to see the eclipse in Australia. It was beautiful - I watched it for an hour then it started to get light. The last one I saw was in England in January 2001, which lasted longer as it was at night.
Tina Heyes, Victoria, Australia




SEE ALSO:
Brighter future for observatory
04 May 04  |  London
Red Moon dives behind Earth
09 Nov 03  |  Science/Nature
Skywatchers await lunar eclipse
15 May 03  |  Science/Nature
Astronauts' view of eclipse
09 Dec 02  |  Science/Nature


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