­Final lunar eclipse of 2011 captivates stargazers

A full moon lunar eclipse seen in Islamabad on December 10, 2011 (AFP Photo / Aamir Qureshi)
All because the Moon turns "blood red" as the Earth's shadow falls upon it. And on this occasion, the eclipse's timing meant people nearly the world over were able to enjoy the rare celestial treat.

And rare it is – the next total lunar eclipse won't happen until April 2014, making this one not only an impressive sight, but an important event for astronomers. They used their opportunity to watch the eclipse wisely, gathering data on distant planets potentially capable of supporting life.

Amateur stargazers, however, were excited simply to see the almost hour-long eclipse – during which the Moon actually appears smaller, an optical illusion caused by its dark, dull color.

Some also believe lunar eclipses bring a time when people feel 'lost' and 'in the dark,' and can therefore become prone to anxiety or even aggression. However, most – including astrologists – avoid making such predictions, and simply advise people to enjoy the stellar show.