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Lunar Eclipse Gives Manhattanites Rare Show

By Nicole Bode | December 21, 2010 8:07am | Updated on December 21, 2010 10:10am

By Nicole Bode

DNAinfo Senior Editor

MANHATTAN — New Yorkers willing to stay up late or get up early Tuesday were treated to a rare sight: a lunar eclipse over the city skyline.

Some of the photographs from the eerie early-morning eclipse captured the transition as the Earth's shadow fell upon the full moon and blocked its reflected glow from the sun. The eclipse, which began around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, started with the moon turning a blood-red hue, caused by some indirect sunlight bouncing its rays to the moon. Over the next three and a half hours, the moon was slowly shrouded in darkness, but never completely eventually blacked out because of residual sunlight trickling through.

A small group of stargazers gathered at the entrance of Inwood Hill Park at 1:15 a.m. to watch the spectacle as part of an impromptu event organized by Melvin Medina, a member of the Inwood Astronomy Project, an astronomy education group based in Inwood.

Inwood resident Lisa Hopkins came out to the park, accompanied by her pet corgi, to watch an eclipse in Manhattan for the first time. She said she was stunned to see the brightness of the stars as the moon darkened and began to glow red. 

"I wanted to come out and see this, because it is a rare thing, a special thing," she said.

Small pockets of families and neighbors gathered with heads tilted skyward in doorways and on sidewalks throughout the neighborhood. One woman who said she is a public school teacher said she knew she would regret having stayed up all night in the morning, but felt compelled to see the eclipse.

The eclipse was a rare intersection of the annual lunar eclipse and the winter solstice, meaning that the moon was high up in the sky and much more visible than usual in North America. That hasn't happened since 1638, and won't happen again until 2094, NPR reported.