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10 December 2011

Skywatchers await lunar eclipse

Skywatchers in Australia, Asia and North America are gearing up for a total lunar eclipse on Saturday.

This is the second total lunar eclipse this year and the last until 2014. This type of eclipse occurs when the Earth casts its shadow over the Moon.

But indirect sunlight can still illuminate the Moon turning it a dramatic shade of red.

The shadow starts falling at 11:33 GMT and ends after 17:30 GMT. The eclipse will last 51 minutes eight seconds.

The action will unfold on Saturday night (local time) in Australia and Asia, where views will be the best.

Viewers in the western half of the US will have the best views on Saturday well before dawn (Pacific and Mountain Standard Time).

The farther west they are, the better.

The first total lunar eclipse this year occurred in June.

Stargazers will have to settle for partial eclipses of the Moon until 2014, say astronomers.