'Blood moon' seen Monday night around the Bay Area

Last night's celestial event is the first eclipse of the year and is sometimes called a "blood moon" because of the red appearance of the moon's surface when the moon is completely covered by the Earth's shadow.

The moon did not disappear because sunlight filtered through the edges of the Earth's atmosphere and reach the moon's surface, similar to the effect during the sunset or sunrise.

The moon darkened and turned a "rusty orange, red or coppery" color.

This natural phenomenon occured around midnight in the Bay Area when the sun, Earth and a full moon are in line.

The partial eclipse was visible just before 11 p.m., while the best viewing time will be around 12:45 a.m. The total eclipse will end around 1:25 a.m.

In the Bay Area, if clear skies prevail, viewers can look up or go to various viewing events to see the eclipse.

At the Chabot Space and Science Center in the Oakland hills, a lunar viewing party started at 9 p.m., in time for the official start of the eclipse at 9:53 p.m.

Chabot's observation deck, located at 10000 Skyline Blvd., will stayed open for the late-night event. Staff astronomers and other specialists will be available to explain the eclipse and large telescopes will make for better lunar viewing.

Footage of the moon was streamed on the center's website at http://www.chabotspace.org/nellieCam.htm.

In Vallejo, amateur astronomers headed to Mare Island, where the eclipse can be viewed from the Mare Island Shoreline Heritage Preserve's Visitors Center.

The preserve opened at 4 p.m. for hikers and bikers and there will be a moonlit nature walk to a hilltop vantage point at 8 p.m.

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