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Darkness falls on the moon in June

Submitted by Robin Taylor / UGC

Earth casts a sharp shadow on the moon's disk during the height of Monday's partial lunar eclipse, as seen from Wichita, Kan.


The full moon put on a show today from one side of the Pacific to the other, in the form of a partial lunar eclipse.

Unlike last month's annular solar eclipse, half of the world could see Earth's shadow fall upon the moon's disk at one time. The viewing zone took in most of the Americas, the Pacific, Australia and East Asia. At the time of maximum eclipse, 37 percent of the moon was covered with darkness.

Even if you were in the eclipse zone, you had to be looking up at the right time, under the right conditions. For North Americans, the right time was before sunrise. For example, the picture you see above was taken at around 5:40 a.m. CT by Robin Taylor, and sent in via our FirstPerson sharing website. Taylor also lucked out with the weather: The wispy clouds add an air of mystique without spoiling the view.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, skywatchers in Indonesia, Japan and other Asian countries turned their eyes and their telescopes to the skies after sunset.

This lunar eclipse took place just two weeks after the solar eclipse, which also gave an advantage to Pacific Rim observers. That's no accident: Lunar eclipses occur when Earth gets exactly between the moon and the sun, and solar eclipses occur when the moon gets exactly between the sun and Earth. Over the past couple of weeks, the tilt of the moon's orbit was favorably aligned with respect to Earth for both configurations.

As a reminder of the annular "Ring of Fire" eclipse, I'm including a shot contributed this week by Dario Infini of Carmel, Ind. Infini's photograph shows a woman standing on a high sand dune in Albuquerque, N.M., at the height of the solar eclipse. "The circumstances of clear weather, relative accessibility and a relatively unobstructed view near the horizon made this a very rare set of photos, potentially once in a lifetime," Infini writes.

And speaking of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, Tuesday offers the last chance until the year 2117 to witness the transit of Venus across the sun's disk. It's worth seeing — but make sure you see it safely. Your options for precautions range from solar-filter glasses to pinhole projectors to webcast views. Here's a guide to safe observing, and here's a guide to photographing the transit. If you get some great pictures, will you please share them with us? You can use the FirstPerson tool to pass them along. 

Oscar Siagian / AFP - Getty Images

A skywatcher peers through a telescope to look at a partial lunar eclipse in Jakarta on Monday evening. The first partial lunar eclipse of the year provided dramatic scenes across Indonesia and other parts of Asia and the Pacific, with a clear moon visible to many as the event unfolded.

AP

A partial lunar eclipse is seen on Monday through the Sapporo TV Tower in Sapporo, Japan.

Submitted by Dario Infini / UGC

Dario Infini took this picture of a woman standing on a high sand dune in Albuquerque, N.M., framed by the "ring of fire" created by May 20's annular solar eclipse. A solar filter gives a golden tone to the scene.

More views of eclipses:


Alan Boyle is msnbc.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.