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Earthlings are about to be treated to a total lunar eclipse, just in time for Halloween.

For more than an hour tonight, the moon will be covered entirely by Earth's shadow and will resemble a glowing pumpkin.

With the Earth passing directly between the sun and the moon, the only light hitting the full moon will be from the home planet's sunrises and sunsets, thus the orange and red hue.

It will be a late-night show for people in North and South America and a predawn display early Thursday for those in Europe and western Africa.

Aside from their entertainment value, total lunar eclipses give scientists a chance to assess the quality of Earth's atmosphere. Ash from volcanic eruptions, for example, can make an eclipsed moon look much darker. The recent eruptions of Mount St. Helens in Washington have consisted of far more steam than ash, and therefore the moon should appear bright and coppery red tonight, NASA said.

The next total eclipse of the moon will not be until March 2007.

People interested in viewing the eclipse may visit the Buffalo Museum of Science.

The centerpiece of an evening of events there will be roof-top observations through telescopes with the Buffalo Astronomical Society from 8 p.m. to midnight. A partial eclipse starts at 9:14 p.m. The total eclipse starts at 10:23 p.m. and ends at 11:45 p.m.

Other museum activities include:

Hands-on demonstrations based on eclipses, phases of the moon and other lunar features, 8 to 10 p.m.

A talk and 3-D presentation by Marilou Bebak on her experience with the launching of the Mars rover, 8:30 to 9 p.m.

Buffalo Astronomical Association presentations on our place in space, the mechanics of an eclipse and the Apollo missions, 9 to 9:30 p.m, and 9:30 to 10 p.m.

Tour of a new exhibit that is under construction, 10 p.m.

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