What is a Blood Moon?

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A  lunar tetrad – four total lunar eclipses in a row – begins on the night of April 14-15.People are calling it a Blood Moon eclipse.   Here’s why

 

 
 
 
 
 

b2ap3_thumbnail_m_eclipse-mars-spica-Classical-Astronomy.jpgOn the night of April 14-15, the planet Mars – closest in 6 years – will be near the eclipsed moon. The star Spica will also be nearby. The first Blood Moon eclipse in a series of four is coming up on the night of April 14-15, 2014. This total eclipse of the moon will be visible from the Americas.

We in astronomy had not heard the term Blood Moon used in quite this way before this year, but now the term is becoming widespread in the media.

 The origin of the term is religious, at least according to Christian pastor John Hagee, who wrote a 2013 book about Blood Moons. Meanwhile, both astronomers and some proponents of Christian prophesy are talking about the upcoming lunar tetrad – the series of four total lunar eclipses – beginning on the night of April 14-15.  

 

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This is what a total eclipse looks like. This is the total eclipse of October 27, 2004 via Fred Espenak of NASA. Astronomy writers often describe a totally eclipsed moon as appearing ‘blood red.’

Bottom line: A moon may look red during a total lunar eclipse because of sunlight that is filtered and refracted by Earth’s atmosphere.

Why does the moon look red during a total lunar eclipse?

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During a total lunar eclipse, Earth’s shadow on the moon often looks red. Why?

 

 

 

 The reason stems from the air we breathe. During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth lies directly between the sun and the moon, causing the Earth to cast its shadow on the moon. If Earth didn’t have an atmosphere, then, when the moon was entirely within Earth’s shadow, the moon would would appear black and invisible.

Thanks to Earth’s atmosphere, what actually happens is much more subtle and beautiful.

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Apollo astronauts acquired the photo at left, and the Japanese lunar probe Kaguya acquired the one at right, during a 2009 total lunar eclipse. At left, you see the view of a person standing on the moon during a total lunar eclipse. Sunlight is shining through Earth’s atmosphere.  At right, the fully eclipsed moon takes on the reddish color of sunlight filtered and refracted through Earth’s atmosphere.

Depending on the conditions of our atmosphere at the time of the eclipse (dust, humidity, temperature and so on can all make a difference), the surviving light will illuminate the moon with a color that ranges from copper-colored to deep red.

In December 1992, not long after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, there was so much dust in Earth’s atmosphere that the totally eclipsed moon could barely be seen.

Can anyone know in advance how red the moon will appear during a total lunar eclipse? Not precisely. Before an eclipse takes place, you’ll often hear people speculating about it. That uncertainty is part of the fun of eclipses, so enjoy! And watch for the red moon during a lunar eclipse.

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Bottom line:A moon may look red during a total lunar eclipse because of sunlight that is filtered and refracted by Earth’s atmosphere.

 

 Blood Moons in Biblical prophecy

 

m_four-blood-moons-john-hagee.jpgWhat is a lunar tetrad? Both astronomers and followers of certain Christian pastors are talking about the lunar tetrad of 2014-2015. What is a tetrad? It’s 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)

Blood Moons in Biblical prophecy. We’re not experts on prophecy of any kind. But we’ll tell you what we know about the new definition for Blood Moon that has raised so many questions recently.

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. John Hagee appears to have popularized the term in his 2013 book Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change.

Mark Blitz and John Hagee speak of a lunar tetrad as representing a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. After all, the moon is supposed to turn blood red before the end times, isn’t it? As described in Joel 2:31 (Common English Bible): "The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood before the great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.""

That description, by the way, describes both a total solar eclipse and total lunar eclipse. Sun turned to darkness = moon directly between the Earth and sun in a total solar eclipse. Moon turned to blood = Earth directly between the sun and moon, Earth’s shadow falling on the moon in a total lunar eclipse.   

Dates of Biblical prophecy Blood Moons in 2014 and 2015. These are the dates for the upcoming tetrad – four successive total lunar eclipses – in these years.

2014:
Total lunar eclipse: April 14-15
Total lunar eclipse: October 8

2015:
Total lunar eclipse: April 4
Total lunar eclipse: September 28

There are a total of 8 tetrads in the 21st century (2001 to 2100). But proponents of this Biblical prophecy regard the upcoming tetrad as especially significant because it coincides with two important Jewish holidays: Passover and Tabernacles.

 Bottom line: The term Blood Moon in Biblical prophecy appears to have been popularized by two Christian pastors, Mark Blitz and John Hagee. They 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) – beginning on the night of April 14-15, 2014. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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