Originally posted at 1:07 p.m. April 14, 2014. Edited to add video.
By Jaimie Cura
The lunar eclipse on April 15 is being referred to as a blood moon eclipse and if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why.
The most obvious answer seems to be: “Because it looks red.” According to EarthSky, a full moon almost always takes on a copper hue during a total lunar eclipse, due to light dispersion from the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets.
“Thus the term blood moon can be and probably is applied to any and all total lunar eclipses,” EarthSky reports.
But with the publication of a 2013 book by John Hagee titled “Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change,” the term has taken on a religious component.
“From what we’ve been able to gather, two Christian pastors, Mark Blitz and John Hagee, use the term Blood Moon to apply to the full moons of the upcoming tetrad – four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons) – in 2014 and 2015,” Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd write in this EarthSky article on the blood moon eclipse.
Definition recap: A lunar tetrad is a series of four consecutive total lunar eclipses that take place in six month intervals, approximately. That means that over the next two years, we’ll see four lunar eclipses.
Add to that a bit of biblical prophecy the lunar tetrad is thought to fulfill, something Hagee writes about in his book, and that’s why the folks at EarthSky think the term “blood moon” is gaining in popularity.
When to Watch
Night owls, rejoice: in Los Angeles County, the lunar eclipse will begin around 9:56 p.m. tonight and will end at 3:36 a.m. on Tuesday. But the best viewing starts at 10:58 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Times.
Starting at 7 tonight, the Griffith Park Observatory is offering a free public viewing onsite (free parking with shuttle is available at the Greek Theatre). And if you're not feeling up to the drive, you can also watch online at this link.
Bonus Celestial Stuff
Mars will make an appearance near the eclipsed moon. Red planet, red moon — I’m seeing a theme here…
Don’t forget to mark your calendars! Here’s the approximate dates for the rest of the lunar eclipses in the tetrad:
- Oct. 8, 2014
- April 4, 2015
- Sept. 28, 2015