An unusually full partial lunar eclipse that drew numerous cloudless skies to Earth caught more than just the eyes of millions of watchers on Saturday, it left them stunned and excited.
The event may have exceeded most expectations, as it fell on the 45th anniversary of the Moon landing, the Tetrad Moon, which happens only every three years and a half.
Saturday’s event was also timed to take place hours before SpaceX launched a commercial satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk called it the “perfect coincidence” in a blog post. The launch, called the CRS-10 mission, eventually succeeded.
At 8:45 a.m. ET, the moon turned slightly red in color to peer through Earth’s shadow. About an hour later, the whole event was over.
Despite the lack of clouds and good viewing conditions, millions of people headed out to see the spectacle.
At Rome’s Colosseum, thousands of tourists and Romans thronged the monument, which had been closed for the public for four days due to military maneuvers.
When the moon turned red, the reason was a rarity in Earth’s relatively new history of eclipses. At the summit of Mount Olympus in Greece, astronaut Neil Armstrong leaned in the crater and clicked photographs before he spoke for the first time on the moon.
His record-setting words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”