The crowd packed on the grassy lawn of Griffith Observatory erupted in whistles, cheers and howls shortly before 12:05 a.m. on Tuesday as a darkened moon transformed into an orange "blood moon" for the start of a total lunar eclipse.
Visitors scrambled toward the front of the observatory, pointing up at the reddening moon.
Telescopes dotting the lawn pointed upward and southward, as the moon hovered above.
Around 11 p.m., a "bite" began to spread across the moon as the Earth blocked direct light from the sun, casting a shadow on the moon. The dark red hue came from the light of sunsets and sunrises over the rest of the Earth.
A hush fell over the balconies and grassy lawn as the eclipse began, revealing the distant hum of a helicopter balanced in the sky like a flickering star.
Inside the observatory, onlookers jockeyed for prime viewing spots on the balcony. People kept their heads up and cameras at the ready. Flashes clicked on and off.
Forecasters had predicted clear skies for prime viewing conditions across the region.
As the darkened moon took on color shortly after midnight, onlookers snapped photos with phones and high-powered cameras and then took to social media to share their results.
Johanna Huerta ushered in her 30thbirthday early Tuesday with the "blood moon."
Huerta, of South Los Angeles, was one of the hundreds of people who descended on the Observatory to see 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.
"I dragged them with me," Huerta said. "I'm the dorky one."
Some people joined in a chorus, singing the theme song to "
Wolf-like howls were heard in Griffith Park as crowds slowly began to leave.
Some turned around for one more look or to snap one last picture, as the full eclipse began in earnest.