A total lunar eclipse happened this morning, but sorry, if you weren’t looking up on your way to work you’ll have missed it.

The rare cosmic event began at 6:32am as the full moon began to move through the earth’s shadow. The total eclipse reached its maximum at 8.17am, and ended at 8.53am.

A lunar eclipse takes place when the sun, Earth and moon are perfectly aligned with the Earth in the middle and can only happen when the moon is full. As the moon passes behind the Earth, the sun’s rays are blocked from falling on the moon.

The event is known as a selenelion and today took place on the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year. It’s the first time in almost 500 years that a lunar eclipse has coincided with the Winter Solstice.

Where the sky was clear, the moon appeared red. However cloudy weather in London meant that there wasn’t much to see, even if you had been looking up.

In other parts of the UK the eclipse was more visible but according to experts the best places to view it were North and Central America, parts of northern Europe and East Asia.

The picture above was taken in Virginia, USA.

A lunar eclipse – unlike a solar eclipse, which can only be seen for a few moments from any specific spot – can be viewed for several hours.