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Did you see the Super Flower Blood Moon last night? It was stunning

This combination of pictures shows the moon in various stages of the total lunar eclipse during the first blood moon of the year, in Temple City, Calif. May 15, 2022.
Ringo H.W. Chiu
/
AP
This combination of pictures shows the moon in various stages of the total lunar eclipse during the first blood moon of the year, in Temple City, Calif. May 15, 2022.

A total lunar eclipse that produced a deep red blood moon made its way across the night sky Sunday night into Monday morning, giving stargazers a dramatic, multi-part show.

Around 9:30 p.m. ET the moon began to pass into Earth's shadow. Within roughly two hours it had reached totality – or fully within in Earth's shadow – and stayed there for some 85 minutes.

Yet, instead of going dark, the moon turned a dramatic red.

Also known as a "Blood Moon," this happens because the sunlight shining directly onto Earth passes through the atmosphere and is projected onto the moon — giving it a red tone during the eclipse.

"This same effect is what gives sunrises and sunsets a reddish-orange color," NASA explains.

A total lunar eclipse graces the night skies during the first blood moon of the year, in Brasilia, Brazil, Sunday, May 15.
Eraldo Peres / AP
/
AP
A total lunar eclipse graces the night skies during the first blood moon of the year, in Brasilia, Brazil, Sunday, May 15.

But why was the moon so BIG?

This is because another event was also taking place: a super Moon. This happens when the celestial body is closest to Earth in its orbit. This confluence of events has led last night's eclipse to be dubbed the Super Flower Blood Moon of May 2022.

In total, the eclipse lasted some five hours, with totality lasting about 85 minutes. This is longer compared to most, Ernest Wright, graphics system specialist at NASA, says.

"It has a lot to do with whether or not it [the moon] is going through the middle of the shadow or kind of skimming along the edge," he told viewers tuning into NASA's livestream of the eclipse. "This eclipse is in the top 25% of eclipses for duration so we're pretty close to the middle."

People in Central and South America, along with the eastern part of the continental United States got the best show — blood moon and all.

Meanwhile, parts of western Europe and Western Africa mostly experienced just the total eclipse.

The next total lunar eclipse is expected on November 22, according to Science.com.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ashley Westerman is a producer who occasionally directs the show. Since joining the staff in June 2015, she has produced a variety of stories including a coal mine closing near her hometown, the 2016 Republican National Convention, and the Rohingya refugee crisis in southern Bangladesh. She is also an occasional reporter for Morning Edition, and NPR.org, where she has contributed reports on both domestic and international news.