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Patient stargazers rewarded with view of rare eclipse

Some stargazers enjoyed a double celestial treat Sunday when a total lunar eclipse combined with a so-called supermoon.

Those in the United States, Europe, Africa and western Asia were able to view the rare coupling, weather permitting, Sunday night or early Monday.

The event occurred at about 9:11 p.m. in Chicago and lasted about an hour, but that whole “weather permitting” thing was key – in at least some parts of Chicago, the clouds spoiled the fun for some people.

A crowd had gathered at Montrose Beach Sunday evening, hoping for a glimpse of the rare lunar event. But many there groused as they looked at the heavens about the clouds that rolled in to block their view.

Audrey Hellinger called the supermoon a “really cool thing to see,” but she had little optimism as she strolled through the park.

“It looks like it’s going to be a failure because of the clouds,” Hellinger said.

Wendell Marks said he’d already spent about 90 minutes at the park, but around 8:30 p.m. he said he was “a little disappointed.”

“We’re actually planning on getting ready to take off,” Marks said.

Others in Chicago took to social media to say that their patience was rewarded with a clear view when the clouds parted.

In Los Angeles, a large crowd filled the lawn of Griffith Observatory while many others staked tripods with telescopes around the hilltop landmark in anticipation of the rare celestial sight.

The possibility of clouds obscuring the view added a little drama, said astronomer Edwin Krupp, the director of Griffith Observatory.

“You always want to see the eclipse because they’re always very different,” Krupp said, adding that the additional component of the earth’s atmosphere adds “all kinds of twists and turns to the experience.”

“What we see tonight will be different from the last event: how dark it is, how red it is. It’s always interesting to see,” he said.

It’s the first time the events have made a twin appearance since 1982, and they won’t again until 2033.

When a full moon makes its closest approach to Earth, it appears bigger and brighter than usual and is known as a supermoon.

That will coincide with a full lunar eclipse where the moon, Earth and sun will be lined up, with Earth’s shadow totally obscuring the moon.

In Europe, the action will unfold before dawn Monday.

Contributing: Jon Seidel

The supermoon rises Sunday night behind St. Michael’s Tower on Glastonbury Tor in England. Tonight’s supermoon, so called because it is the closet full moon to the Earth this year, coincides with a lunar eclipse, a combination that has not happened since 1982 and won’t happen again until 2033. | Matt Cardy/Getty Images