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Partial Lunar Eclipse Puts on a Moon Show 50 Years After Apollo 11 Launch

NASA astronaut Christina Koch captured this photo of the partial lunar eclipse of July 16-17, 2019 from the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Christina Koch captured this photo of the partial lunar eclipse of July 16-17, 2019 from the International Space Station.
(Image: © Christina Koch/NASA)

BOGOTA, Colombia — The moon was at the tail end of a partial lunar eclipse when it rose above the Andean horizon here on Tuesday (July 16), its northern limb taking on a slightly tinted color that the city skyline largely obscured. The full ''Thunder Moon'' then ascended high into the sky, veiled in the cloud coverage that settled across the Bogota savanna, which sits 8,660 feet (2,640 meters) above sea level.

In other parts of South America and in much of the rest of the world, millions of spectators caught a fabulous celestial show as the moon underwent a partial lunar eclipse. The event could be seen on this continent and throughout Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, Asia and Australia, but North America and parts of eastern Russia were left in the dark, so to speak, because the moon was under their horizon during this color change.

This lunar eclipse, which is the last one of 2019, came exactly two weeks after the shadow of a total solar eclipse crossed the cone of South America, from Chile to Argentina, on July 2. It also arrived on a historic day: the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's launch toward the moon.

Related: How Lunar Eclipses Work (Infographic)

Astrophotographer Zaid Abbadi captured the partial lunar eclipse of July 16-17, 2019 from Amman, Jordan. (Image credit: Zaid Abbadi)

From Bogota and most regions in Colombia, the full moon could be seen taking on a tinted brownish color, as if somehow the moon had been dipped into a pot of tea. This subtle coloration marks the book ends of the eclipse, when the moon slides into the outer part of Earth's shadow. Month to month, the full moon is usually illuminated by sunlight in its iconic glow, but periodically, its path brings it into the outer (penumbral) or inner (umbral) shadow that Earth casts into space.

For skywatchers in Bogota, the most dramatic part of the eclipse had already happened by the time the moon rose in the east. While Colombians could see only the final penumbral phase of the eclipse, those farther east could see up to 65% of the moon's face engulfed in Earth's dark shadow. 

Part of the partial lunar eclipse was visible in other parts of South America, like La Paz, Bolivia, where the moon could be seen boasting a touch of red as it partly entered into the deepest part of Earth's shadow during its ascent in the sky. The rusty hue then disappeared from the lunar surface slightly before 7 p.m. local time, when the partial phase of the eclipse subsided into the final penumbral phase, according to timeanddate.com.

This NASA chart shows both the map of visibility and times of major events (in UTC) of the partial lunar eclipse of July 16, 2019. (Image credit: NASA/Fred Espenak)

Across the Atlantic Ocean, metropolises like Cairo, Rome, Istanbul and Cape Town, South Africa, had center-stage viewing of the full event and caught over 5 hours of the celestial sighting. For comparison, La Paz and Brisbane, Australia, caught about 2 hours; the moon was rising in La Paz as it exited Earth's shadow, and the moon was setting in Brisbane while it was still passing through the umbral shadow a couple minutes after the eclipse peaked there. The partial lunar eclipse could also been seen from major cities in Europe, like London and Paris. 

NASA astronaut Christina Koch was aboard the International Space Station when she caught the partial lunar eclipse. 

''So special to experience a partial lunar eclipse during the historic week of #Apollo50th celebrations," Koch tweeted July 16 along with a photo of the moon that she captured from orbit. ''Dreaming of the sights we'll see on future #Artemis missions,'' Koch added, referring to the NASA program aiming to return humans to the surface of the moon by 2024. 

Others, like photographer Andrew Brooks, made the special connection between the eclipse and the celebrations of this historic week. 

''Good to see the moon looking so beautiful on the anniversary of the #MoonLanding,'' Brooks shared on Twitter along with a photo of the eclipse that he took from Manchester, England.

If you missed this lunar eclipse, you'll have to wait until Jan. 10, 2020, for a chance to see the next one. That eclipse will be only a penumbral eclipse, which means that the moon won't get as dark as it passes through the outermost part of Earth's shadow. There will be a total of four penumbral lunar eclipses in 2020, but there won't be another partial or total lunar eclipse until 2021. For more info about upcoming eclipses, check out our complete list of lunar and solar eclipses from now until 2024

Follow Doris Elin Salazar on Twitter @salazar_elin. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

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