A blood-red moon dazzled stargazers across much of the world last night when it moved into Earth's shadow for the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st Century.

From the Cape of Good Hope to the Middle East, and from the Kremlin to Sydney Harbour, thousands of people watched as the moon turned dark before shining orange, brown and crimson in the shadow.

The total eclipse lasted 1 hour, 42 minutes and 57 seconds, though a partial eclipse preceded and follows, meaning the moon will spend a total of nearly 4 hours in the Earth's umbral shadow, according to NASA.

The fullest eclipse was visible from Europe, Russia, Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia and Australia though clouds blocked out the moon in some places, including Ireland.

On the banks of India's Ganges, temples were closed ahead of the eclipse. Enthusiasts watched through telescopes at the Marina South Pier in Singapore and at the Al Sadeem Observatory in Al Wathba near Abu Dhabi.

The moon and Mars over Mt Agung taken an 1 hr 19 mins after the total phase the eclipse over Bali

Hundreds of people in Australia paid to watch the eclipse from the Sydney Observatory before sunrise.

When the moon moved into the conical shadow of the earth, it went from being illuminated by the sun to being dark. Some light, though, still reaches it because it is bent by the Earth's atmosphere.


In Pictures: 'Blood' Moon Eclipse 


"It's called a blood moon because the light from the sun goes through the Earth's atmosphere on its way to the moon, and the Earth's atmosphere turns it red in the same way that when the sun goes down it goes red," Andrew Fabian, professor of astronomy at the University of Cambridge, said.

At the same time, Mars is travelling closer to Earth than it has done since 2003, so some observers may see what looks like an orange-red star - and is in fact the red planet.

"It is a very unusual coincidence to have a total lunar eclipse and Mars at opposition on the same night," said Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society, who watched the eclipse from the Mediterranean Sea.

The next lunar eclipse of such a length is due in 2123.