People who gathered on hills, beaches and observatories in the Atlantic provinces on Saturday evening to get Canada's best view of thefirst total lunar eclipse in 2½ years described it as "surreal" and "pretty cool."

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The shadow of the earth partially covers the moon in the sky over Freiburg, Germany, during the eclipse on Saturday. ((Winfried Rothermel/Associated Press))

Forecasters had predicted that residents ofEastern Canada, the eastern United States, Africa, Europe and much of Asia would see the most as the moon moved through the Earth's shadow beginning at about 5:30 p.m. AT.

There were storms or clouds over some parts of the Atlantic provinces, but not in Halifax, where stargazers flocked to the top of Citadel Hill, cameras and telescopes in hand.

The moon typicallylooksorange, red or brown during an eclipsebecause the remaining sunlight is filtered through the Earth's atmosphere. The people on Citadel Hill watchedthe moontake on adim copper hue.

"It's very surreal," said Frank Burke, 52, of Halifax. "You never see the moon looking like that."

Gilles Arsenault, a member of the Halifax chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society, said he thought the eclipse was remarkable.

"I think it's pretty cool — most of the time it's cloudy here, so luckily the one chance we get to bring our telescopes out, it's actually visible," he said.

"A lot of this stuff is beyond our scale of thinking, and the chance for everything to line up perfectly, you don't get to see that very often."

The Earth's shadow completely covered the moon after about 1½ hours. Themoon was entirelyvisible again shortly after9 p.m. AT.

CBC meteorologist Teresa Fisico said the eclipse would have been less visible the further west one went in Canada.

Given the forecast, however, the eclipse might have been visible in parts of Quebec and Ontario, where there were clear patches of sky, while people living in the southern Prairies might have been able to see the tail end of it.

The next lunar eclipseis expected to occurin Augustwith the moon over the Pacific Ocean.

With files from the Canadian Press