Today marks one of four total lunar eclipses within two years – an astronomical phenomenon known as a lunar tetrad – occurring over that period. May and October eclipses are still on their way.
What is a blood moon?
At a total lunar eclipse, when the Moon passes into Earth’s shadow it appears a deep red color due to sunlight being diverted toward the dark side of the Moon by Earth’s atmosphere – much like what makes your skies appear blue at sunrise and sunset.
At a lunar eclipse, all sunlight reaching the Moon must first pass through Earth’s atmosphere–full of dust and smog–before finally making its way into space. Due to this interference from dust particles in Earth’s atmosphere, shorter wavelengths (the red part of the spectrum) of light tend to bend before reaching their intended destination: making the Moon appear blood-red during an eclipse.
An annual lunar eclipse may happen anywhere on Earth and can usually be easily observed due to the Moon not completely covering out the Sun for any length of time. Furthermore, unlike its counterpart, solar eclipses, which can only be viewed from narrow strips of land between Earth’s shadow and Moon, and where you are on the globe, you can view lunar eclipses anywhere where nightfall has settled in on its surface.
The next lunar eclipse will occur on Nov. 8, 2022 and be both a blood moon and supermoon – meaning it will reach its closest point to Earth during its orbit and appear up to 7% larger than normal. According to Old Farmer’s Almanac, this phenomenon has come to be known as Beaver Moon – probably as a nod back to Native American language traditions.
This will be the second blood moon this year; its first occurred on May 27, 2021 and a third will occur again on March 14, 2025.
The term “blood moon” may not technically refer to astronomy, but its popularity has increased over time. The phrase is sometimes used to refer to four consecutive lunar tetrad eclipses that took place from 2014 through 2015 that religious preachers believed would herald its end; yet none did; these lunar events proved nothing special after all.
How does a blood moon happen?
An eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly through Earth’s shadow and takes on an audacious reddish hue, hence its not-so-ominous moniker: blood moon. Earth’s atmosphere bends or refracts blue sunlight back out into redder wavelengths of sunlight that reach the Moon, producing this phenomenon that gives birth to this nickname.
Total lunar eclipses occur when the Sun, Earth and Moon line up perfectly in line, with the Moon at full moon phase. When entering its deepest shadow area (known as umbra), direct sunlight is completely blocked out; instead only ambient illumination such as reflection from Earth’s atmosphere illuminates its surface – giving the Moon its signature coppery or reddish coloration.
Lunar eclipses are typically an isolated occurrence; however, occasionally they come together in four consecutive events called a lunar tetrad. These occur approximately once every two years but each individual event takes place six months apart over five uneclipsed full moons – with this current lunar tetrad beginning mid-2014 and lasting through 2025 – making this event especially rare!
On Tuesday, the Moon may appear red due to atmospheric conditions including dust storms, wildfire smoke, volcanic ash and air pollution. If the skies clear up enough for viewing purposes in Asia, Australia, North and South America and parts of Europe could witness this celestial event.
Last time around was in 2015 and some religious preachers used it as an ominous sign that the end of the world was imminent. Luckily it didn’t and media hyped its prophecies even more than normal; but don’t rest easy just yet: another super blood wolf moon will occur again in 2024 – even more impressive than this year’s spectacle!
What is the meaning of a blood moon?
Blood moon was made popular after four consecutive total lunar eclipses occurred between 2014-2015, leading religious preachers to suggest they were portents of impending Armageddon. While four consecutive total lunar eclipses may seem unlikely, such an occurrence has actually happened twice previously – in 1582 and again over 250 years later!
The Moon is a reflective satellite that orbits our planet on an inclined orbit. Due to this tilt, the Moon is periodically caught within Earth’s shadow causing lunar eclipses. When this happens, direct sunlight is blocked but some sunlight reflected from Earth’s atmosphere can cast a reddish tint onto its surface giving rise to blood moons.
Although other planets and moons in our Solar System offer eclipse experiences, only ours can witness a total lunar eclipse due to its shadow being just large enough. Even as it slowly recedes from us, lunar eclipses should continue for centuries more to come!
Astronomers rarely use the term blood moon, but when they do it refers to a total lunar eclipse that appears red due to refraction in Earth’s atmosphere. One such instance occurs each October full Moon which is also known as Hunter’s or Harvest Moons and becomes red as it reflects sunlight that has passed through Earth’s atmosphere through Raleigh scattering, an effect known as Raleigh scattering.
Though often associated with werewolves and vampires, a blood moon should not be taken as an omen of bad luck. Instead, it’s an incredible natural event worth experiencing! So make your calendars clear: the next blood moon will appear in March 2025 and can be seen globally; until then you can stay informed via our website and social media channels!
How can I see a blood moon?
Last month, there was a lunar eclipse, popularly dubbed a “blood moon.” But what exactly was happening here? Lunar eclipses themselves aren’t an uncommon occurrence; however, this particular one had an especially vibrant reddish glow which made for quite an impressive spectacle.
Blood moons occur when the full Moon experiences a total lunar eclipse, when Earth lines up between it and Sun to block out sunlight to its surface, leaving only long wavelengths of red light that reach it to reach it’s surface from outer edges of its atmosphere – giving off its reddish hue. How red the Moon appears depends on the amount of dust and haze present in its atmosphere as this will scatter shorter wavelengths of blue light while scattering and absorbing shorter wavelengths; more dust or haze means redder the Moon appears; therefore the greater dust/haze present is in Earth’s atmosphere and will scatter shorter wavelengths of blue light while leaving only longer wavelengths of red light that reach it surface; therefore the greater redder it appears, the more dust/haze there is in its atmosphere; hence more redder the Moon appears, the more dust/haze there is present; therefore the higher up the Red line this table!
On March 14, 2025, you can expect the next blood moon event. People in North and South America, Asia, Australia and Europe can witness it. Also referred to as a supermoon due to being at its closest point in its orbit around Earth making it appear up to 7% larger than normal, this lunar eclipse will feature reddish-orange hue due to light being refracted through Earth’s atmosphere which creates its distinctive reddish-orange tint.
Though media reports and end-of-world prophecies often refer to “blood moon” events as end of world prophecies, this celestial event does not herald an imminent doomsday scenario. A blood moon is actually just poetic shorthand for total lunar eclipse, which typically occur two to five times every year from different locations worldwide and four consecutive total lunar eclipses from any single location within two years! With proper equipment and clear skies you could witness this breathtaking celestial show yourself; just remember to wear proper eye protection while viewing Moon passage through Earth’s shadow while admiring this celestial show!