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Lunar eclipse: Viewer celebrates a birthday and a 'blood moon'

Johanna Huerta will usher in her 30th birthday early Tuesday with the “blood moon.”

Huerta, 29, of South Los Angeles, was one of hundreds of people who descended on the Griffith Observatory on Monday night awaiting the first total eclipse of 2014.

"It worked out that I got the 'blood moon,' " she said. "It will be my first time seeing it."

Huerta brought her brother, 17-year-old Angel, and family friend Flavia Ibarra, 23, to celebrate her birthday and the eclipse, which will be her first to see.

“I dragged them with me,” Huerta said. “I’m the dorky one.”

The eclipse, which will peak early Tuesday, will be the first in more than three years to be visible from Los Angeles and uninterrupted by sunrise. In Los Angeles, the most impressive part will begin at 10:58 p.m. when the first “bite” is taken out of the moon. It will be blotted out entirely at 12:06 a.m. Tuesday, said experts at the observatory.

As the “bite” spreads across the moon, it will transform into a dark “blood moon.” The dark red hue will come from the light of sunsets and sunrises over the rest of the Earth.

Telescope-toting astronomy enthusiasts gathered at the observatory taught Huerta’s group how to differentiate between stars and planets in the night sky. The crowd passed the time by peeking through telescopes propped on the grassy lawn.

“It’s interesting learning about the universe and other discoveries that come from it,” Huerta said.

She vowed to not leave before seeing the eclipse.

“We might make this a tradition, seeing lunar eclipses,” she said.

Clear skies were forecast for viewing in Los Angeles, according to Joe Sirard, an amateur astronomer who is also a National Weather Service meteorologist in Oxnard.

Sirard said viewers should look south for the moon. 

If you plan to watch the eclipse, try not to be too late, he said.

Once the eclipse “becomes total … it might be somewhat hard to see at that point,” Sirard said.

 

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alicia.banks@latimes.com

Twitter: @aliciadotbanks

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