Tonight is your chance to witness a “blood moon”. That term refers to total lunar eclipses which appear coppery red due to Earth’s atmosphere, often from wildfire smoke or volcanic dust particles lingering above it.
Blood Moon first gained widespread acclaim around 2013 due to two Christian pastors’ interpretation of a series of four total lunar eclipses as biblical prophecy, occurring only every 200 years. These total eclipses made for what’s now commonly known as a lunar tetrad and have since come to symbolize Biblical predictions.
The Moon can only become full when it reaches its zenith point between Earth and Sun. Unfortunately, however, its fullest state lasts only for a brief time before beginning its long decline back into waning phases.
Lunar eclipses occur when the Moon passes through Earth’s shadow, appearing reddish due to sunlight being refracted into our atmosphere and scattered back out again by reflection off Earth. A total lunar eclipse occurs when all Sun light is completely blocked by our planet, creating an extremely rare experience!
There are typically two or three total lunar eclipses each year, yet observing one can be extremely difficult due to geographical conditions and depending on how close or far the moon is from Earth – making a Blood Moon an uncommon occurrence.
People once believed that Blood Moons signalled disaster or the end of the world. While media hyped up these events as prophetic signs, these events are actually just natural astronomical phenomenons. The next Blood Moon will occur on March 14th 2025 but won’t be visible across North America; further ones are expected in 2026 and 2028.
Some names of the Moon stem from Native American tribal traditions. For instance, October’s full Moon is known as Hunter’s Moon or Harvest Moon in reference to hunters spending their time gathering food before winter arrives. Blood Moons often appear during midnight when lighting through thick layers of atmosphere can create reddish-tinged surfaces in which its light shines brightly through, giving rise to their nickname.
The Moon is a fiery ball that orbits Earth in a 29-day lunar cycle, full and bright when closest to us; at its furthest away it becomes New Moon; this signifies the beginning of its own cycle that lasts 29 days after first appearing with this event.
The Moon goes through phases every month depending on its position relative to Earth and Sun. At different points during these cycles, we can see different fractions of its surface being illuminated by sunlight; this phenomenon results from its elliptical orbit which allows it to pass directly between them at some points during its cycle while coming close to their edges at others; hence we see solar eclipses and lunar eclipses occuring regularly.
The initial phase is known as a New Moon and occurs when the Moon is closest to Earth and on the opposite side of our skies from the Sun, so its surface reflects sunlight back onto it. After that comes First Quarter Moon when half the surface is lit by sunlight. Finally comes Full Moon when all surface can be seen, making its presence felt on our tides more strongly than other phases.
After reaching Full Moon status, the Moon begins its downward journey. During its Waning Gibbous phase, which occurs several days post-Full Moon, it becomes egg-shaped with western edges shaded and illumination gradually decreasing each day – hence why it is called waning. As this cycle concludes, eventually reaching Last Quarter phase whereby half of Moon illuminated.
Astronomers have divided the Moon into four primary stages, called New Moon, First Quarter, Full Moon and Last Quarter; these appear on a Moon Phase Calendar along with percentages illuminating its disk seen from Earth.
The Moon’s phases can differ significantly between observers due to horizon shape variations, time zone differences, seasonal variations, and atmospheric refraction. With this tool you can calculate an estimate for moonrise and moonset times at your location by factoring in season, latitude/longitude coordinates as well as how far out from Earth its orbit is – giving an approximate idea for when these will happen for yourself.
Blood moons occur when there is a total lunar eclipse, when Earth passes between the Sun and Moon during an eclipse, blocking any sunlight that would otherwise illuminate it. While usually bright whitish in color, during an eclipse its hue could change drastically to be dark red or even ruddy brown depending on atmospheric conditions.
Earth’s atmosphere scatters shortwavelength light like blue and violet wavelengths while reflecting longer wavelengths like red and orange wavelengths, giving rise to lunar eclipses appearing red due to sunlight reflecting off it and bathing the Moon with dim copper hues; its intensity varying based on factors like dust storms, wildfire smoke and volcanic ash emissions.
While Earth has multiple moons, only one can be eclipsed by our planet. Since our moon orbits slightly farther from the Sun than we do, lunar eclipses don’t always align perfectly when they happen – although during full moon nights it may appear eclipsed.
At the start of a lunar eclipse, the Moon rises just before being cast into Earth’s shadow for approximately three hours, during which its surface turns an earth-colored hue due to sunlight filtered through Earth’s atmosphere reaching it directly. During totality, however, its color changes even further due to only sunlight reaching it and not light from elsewhere on its path reaching it directly.
This phenomenon is commonly known as a “blood moon.” Contrary to popular belief, though, its cause lies entirely within natural processes: when Earth passes between Sun and Moon during each phase.
Moon eclipses are rare events. On average, two total lunar eclipses take place every year, and tetrads of four such eclipses usually happen about every three and a half years – the latest eclipse was on May 14/15 while its next one will occur March 13, 2025.
When the Moon passes into Earth’s shadow, its appearance changes significantly due to our atmosphere scattering sunlight back onto it and giving off red hues that turn it reddish in hue. While this sight can be breathtakingly beautiful, its significance does not lie with superstition or witchcraft – in fact this type of lunar event occurs several times each year and is commonly known as Super Moon or Wolf Moon events – its next one takes place January 20, 2022 and will be known as a Super Blood Wolf Moon!
Astronomers use the term Blood Moon to refer to total lunar eclipses. As part of an eclipse, sunlight passes through Earth’s atmosphere and scatters across its surface during totality, giving the moon its characteristic reddish or coppery tint. The last Blood Moon took place on September 28, 2015 and won’t happen again until April 25, 2032.
Blood Moons are not as frequent as solar eclipses or full moons. Furthermore, they only occur when all three bodies – the Sun, Moon and Earth – line up perfectly straight; this occurs only during Full Moon phases when this happens – last time this happened was November 8 2016 while its next appearance won’t happen again until March 14, 2025.
The Moon only appears red during a total lunar eclipse; otherwise it appears grayish or yellowish. “Blood moon” also refers to partial lunar eclipses when only part of the Moon passes into Earth’s shadow cast by her shadow cast by shadow cast by Earth.
Partial lunar eclipses can be observed with the naked eye, while to witness a true Blood Moon one must witness a total lunar eclipse, which only occurs when the Moon reaches fullest phase. Rarely four consecutive total eclipses have taken place within an eclipse period – known as lunar tetrads – prompting many people to attribute religious significance to these rare occurrences.