lunar eclipse as seen from Amman
A shadow falls across the Moon during a lunar eclipse. Reuters

The moon often changes colors during a solar eclipse, but witnesses saw a spectacular red across the moon during yesterday's eclipse. What's the reason?

During a lunar eclipse, the earth is situated between the sun and the moon, casting its shadow onto the lunar surface.

The total phase of a lunar eclipse is so interesting and beautiful precisely because of the filtering and refracting effect of Earth's atmosphere, a NASA spokesman says.

As the sunlight travels through the earth's atmosphere, it picks up a red color from the pollutions and dirt and then the sunlight travels on through the earth's atmosphere and it stops on the surface of the moon.

This same phenomenon -- which causes red sunrises, for instance -- is now cast onto the moon. Yesterday's eclipse was particularly red as recent phenomenon have thrown a number of pollutants into the air.

Last month Iceland's Grimsvotn volcano erupted, not only disturbing flights across Europe, but sending massive amounts of soot and ash into the air.

Earlier this month, the Puyehue volcano in Chile began hurling plumes of ash over Latin America that spread to South Africa and Australia and more eruptions are expected in coming days .The Nabro volcano in Eritrea, on the Red Sea in the horn of Africa, started erupting over the weekend.

Wednesday's lunar eclipse was not only a vivid red, but was also the longest eclipses of the moon in the past 11 years, lasting just over 100 minutes.

In the last 100 years, only three other eclipses have rivaled the duration of totality of this eclipse.

The last lunar eclipse closer to the center of Earth's shadow was on July 16, 2000, when it lasted 107 minutes. The next central total lunar eclipse will be on July 27, 2018.

The spectacle wasn't viewable in North America, however.

The entire lunar eclipse was expected to be visible from eastern Africa, the Middle East, central Asia and western Australia. European skywatchers missed the very beginning of the eclipse, because the moon was still below the local horizon when the event began.

Still. thousands still watched the stunning lunar eclipse live online.

Google and the skywatching website Slooh teamed up to offer live views of the eclipse from Dubai, South Africa and Cyprus, with Google modifying its homepage logo for the cosmic event.

A live view of the moon, as it appeared in the Slooh camera, took over one of the letter O's in the company's logo.

The next total lunar eclipse will fall on Dec. 10, 2011, which will be visible from all of Asia and Australia and parts of the U.S. including Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest, while rest of the continental U.S. will have to wait until April 15, 2014 to witness a total lunar eclipse.