For others on the Santa Rosa Plain, in places like Rohnert Park, the marine layer spoiled the show.

"We just got blasted with the fog, or high clouds," said Ed Megill, a Rohnert Park resident who heads up the Santa Rosa Junior College Planetarium.

"I said the moon would vanish," Thomas Targett, a Sonoma State University astronomy professor told his students. But he didn't expect it would be because of the weather. They had to cancel a telescope viewing.

In other parts of the county such as Occidental, residents had clearer skies and reported a bloodshot moon that seemed to be taking a cue from Mars.

Some residents in Santa Rosa didn't have to go into the hills to glimpse most of the celestial phenomenon, which began just before 11 p.m. Monday, culminating with the full eclipse around midnight, lasting more than an hour.

"It was pretty beautiful. It was like a black, full moon with a bit of a reddish tint," said Gary Weston, a retired astrophysics and astronomy professor who lives in Bennett Valley.

Astronomers say the redness on the moon's surface is caused by the longer wavelengths of sunlight, reddish in color, that make their way though the earth's atmosphere and get reflected off the moon.

"It's like adding up all the sunrises and sunsets and shining them on the moon's surface," Targett said.

This week's eclipse is the first of four total lunar eclipses this year and next, a so-called tetrad that won't occur again until 2032-33.

The next total eclipse is scheduled for Oct. 8, but at a more inconvenient time of night, reaching its darkest point at 3:56 a.m.

You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or

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