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Greatest hits from the eclipse

A partial lunar eclipse may not be as spectacular as totality, but it can sure generate some spectacular pictures. And thanks to all the online channels that are now available to photographers, it's easier than ever to see a worldwide selection.

Well, make that a "half-worldwide" selection: Lunar eclipses, partial as well as total, are visible to half of the globe at once. That's in contrast with total solar eclipses, which can be seen only along a miles-wide track that extends across what's usually an exotic strip of the world (like the South Pacific, which is the focus of next month's brush with solar totality).

The prime viewing for Saturday's eclipse stretched from the western side of the Americas to the eastern edges of Asia. In California's Mojave Desert, the peak time was around 4:30 a.m. in the morning - or "0-dark-30," to use photographer Alan Radecki's term. His multiple-exposure image, featured above, shows our planet's shadow subtly moving from one edge of the moon to the other during the course of the eclipse.

Lunar eclipse

Slamet Riyadi / AP

Earth casts a shadow over the moon during a partial lunar eclipse, as seen on the evening of June 26 from Yogyakarta in central Java. Click here for an interactive graphic that explains eclipse astronomy.

The peak hour came earlier as you went farther west, and on the other side of the International Date Line, it was Saturday night when the eclipse was at its peak. Australian photographer Andrew Ritchie captured a multiple-exposure picture that was somewhat similar to Radecki's, but looking toward the other horizon.

Indonesians gathered in Yogyakarta on the island of Java to watch the show. Others saw the eclipse from the Pacific as well as from Asia, stretching eastward as far as India and Nepal. This NASA map shows the area of visibility.

Lunar eclipse

Slamet Riyadi / AP

An Indonesian student uses a telescope to look at Saturday's lunar eclipse from Yogyakarta in Java.

If you weren't in the eclipse zone, or if clouds (or sleep) kept you from seeing the event as it happened, you can still experience some of the thrill by checking out SpaceWeather.com's gallery of eclipse pics, or doing a PicFog search. Space.com's Tariq Malik rounds up a nice selection of photos, including a time-exposure photo of the International Space Station passing over California's Palomar Mountain during Scott Kardel's eclipse-watching session.

The next lunar eclipse will be a total one, occurring on Dec. 21 with North America in the prime viewing position. But you don't have to wait that long to get an eyeful of the sky. Now is the best time of year to see the space station pass overhead, and NASA's online database tells you when and where to look. (There are four sighting opportunities tonight from my neck of the woods.)

July 11's total solar eclipse won't be at all visible from North America - you'll have to go someplace in the Pacific or South America to see it. But I'm hoping that some scientific expedition groups, such as the Saros Group, will be sending out video streams while it's happening. If you know of webcasters who are making preparations (or Chilean and Argentinian TV networks that are touting live coverage), let me know in your comments below and we'll put together a roundup for armchair eclipse-watchers around the globe.


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