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US eclipse watchers howl at Blood Wolf Moon but bitter cold cancels other festivities

Updated : January 21, 2019 03:05 PM IST

Skywatchers howled at the moon at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles when the full lunar eclipse appeared shortly after 9 PM Pacific time on Sunday and our celestial neighbour was bathed reddish-orange during a Super Blood Wolf Moon.

More than 1,500 people gathered at the observatory near the city's famous Hollywood sign to watch the eclipse.

However, not everyone got to watch the cosmic show, with lunar eclipse parties canceled elsewhere due to a flash freeze across the central and northeastern United States. Icy roadways rather than cloudy skies were blamed by astronomers for spoiling the festivities.

In Los Angeles, where the weather was markedly warmer and skies cleared just in time, skywatchers were treated to a full spectacle of the Earth casting its shadow over the moon's face.

The moon did not vanish entirely during the total eclipse but, at its height, the entire lunar surface was bathed in a reddish-orange glow that gives rise to the "blood moon" description.

The reddish color is due to rays of sunlight passing through Earth's dusty, polluted atmosphere as the moon falls into our planet's shadow. The shorter, more pliable blue wavelengths of light are scattered outside the Earth's shadow and the longer, less bendable red wavelengths are refracted toward the moon.

Adding to the visual effect is the fact that the eclipse occurred at a time when the moon reached a point in its orbit putting it close to Earth, an alignment called a supermoon.

It has also earned the name "wolf moon" because it appears in January, when wolves would howl in hunger outside villages early in US history, according to The Farmers Almanac.

The start of a total lunar eclipse that is being called a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' is shown from Encinitas, California, US, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The start of a total lunar eclipse that is being called a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' is shown from Encinitas, California, US, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The first full moon of 2019 rises off the shore of Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Britain January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
The first full moon of 2019 rises off the shore of Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Britain January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
The first full moon of 2019 rises off the shore of Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Britain January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
The first full moon of 2019 rises off the shore of Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Britain January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
The full moon is seen ahead of a total lunar eclipse, known as the
The full moon is seen ahead of a total lunar eclipse, known as the "super blood wolf moon", at a cemetery in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico January 20, 2019.REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
The start of a total lunar eclipse that is being called a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' is shown from Encinitas, California, US, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The start of a total lunar eclipse that is being called a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' is shown from Encinitas, California, US, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A cross headstone is silhouetted against the full moon ahead of a total lunar eclipse, known as the
A cross headstone is silhouetted against the full moon ahead of a total lunar eclipse, known as the "super blood wolf moon", at a cemetery in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico January 20, 2019.REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
The start of a total lunar eclipse that is being called a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' is shown from Encinitas, California, US, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The start of a total lunar eclipse that is being called a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' is shown from Encinitas, California, US, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The full moon is seen through a headstone ahead of a total lunar eclipse, known as the
The full moon is seen through a headstone ahead of a total lunar eclipse, known as the "super blood wolf moon", at a cemetery in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico January 20, 2019.REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
A full moon rises between clouds before the start of a total lunar eclipse that is being called a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' in San Diego, California, US, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A full moon rises between clouds before the start of a total lunar eclipse that is being called a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' in San Diego, California, US, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A full moon rises between clouds as a landing commercial jet approaches the airport before the start of a total lunar eclipse that is being called a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' in San Diego, California, US, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A full moon rises between clouds as a landing commercial jet approaches the airport before the start of a total lunar eclipse that is being called a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' in San Diego, California, US, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A full moon rises between clouds as a landing commercial jet approaches the airport before the start of a total lunar eclipse that is being called a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' in San Diego, California, US, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A full moon rises between clouds as a landing commercial jet approaches the airport before the start of a total lunar eclipse that is being called a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' in San Diego, California, US, January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The first full moon of 2019 rises off the shore of Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Britain January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
The first full moon of 2019 rises off the shore of Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Britain January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
The full moon is seen ahead of a total lunar eclipse, known as the
The full moon is seen ahead of a total lunar eclipse, known as the "super blood wolf moon", in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, US, January 20, 2019.REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
The first full moon of 2019 rises off the shore of Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Britain January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
The first full moon of 2019 rises off the shore of Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Britain January 20, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Naden
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