Lunar Eclipse ‘Blood Moon’: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

On October 8, we will experience the second total lunar eclipse of 2014, also known as a Blood Moon, and it will be visible for almost all of North America.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. The Moon Will Turn Red as the Earth Blocks the Sun

A so-called Blood Moon or total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon becomes completely covered in the penumbral cone of the Earth, without touching the umbra. Or basically, when the Moon passes through the full shadow of the Earth, turning the moon a rusty color. As Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, the Earth’s shadow will block most of the light from the Sun. The sunlight that does reach the Moon is filtered through Earth’s atmosphere, with the colors scattered — red scattered the least because of its longer wave length. Imagine watching the eclipse from the surface of the moon; you’d see a ring of red around the Earth — one giant circular sunset. This light bathes the Moon, creating the “blood” color of the Moon during its eclipse.

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During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon turns red for up to an hour or more.

This Blood Moon will fall during a so-called Hunter’s Moon, or the first full moon after the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox.


2. West Coast Skygazers Will Get the Best View

The full eclipse will begin around 6:25 a.m. EDT and last until 7:24 a.m EDT, according to NASA, and will appear 5.3 percent larger than the previous Blood Moon. While the eclipse, at least in part, will be visible from all of North America, those on the West Coast will get the best view of the fully eclipsed moon from start to finish.

East Coast skygazers will bump up against daybreak and the setting of the moon over the horizon. While this prevents them from seeing the entire eclipse, they may see the rare and improbable selenelion — the simultaneous viewing of a total lunar eclipse and the rising sun.

Here are the key stages of the lunar eclipse to better understand the above and below diagrams, via Inconstant Moon:

First Contact (P1) – The penumbral eclipse begins, as the outer shadow touches the lunar disc.
Second Contact (U1) – The Moon enters the darker inner shadow, and the umbral eclipse begins.
Third Contact (U2) – The total umbral eclipse starts as the inner shadow covers the entire disc.
Fourth Contact (U3) – The Moon begins to exit the inner shadow and the total umbral eclipse ends.
Fifth Contact (U4) – The umbral eclipse ends, leaving only outer, penumbral shadow on the Moon.
Sixth Contact (P2) – The last shadow leaves the Moon and the penumbral eclipse ends.

Here are the times of the eclipse, by time zone and in stages, via EarthSky.org:

Eastern Daylight Time (October 8, 2014)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 5:15 a.m. EDT on October 8
Total eclipse begins: 6:25 a.m. EDT
Greatest eclipse: 6:55 a.m. EDT
Total eclipse ends: 7:24 a.m. EDT
Partial eclipse ends: 8:34 a.m. EDT

Central Daylight Time (October 8, 2014)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 4:15 a.m. CDT on October 8
Total eclipse begins: 5:25 a.m. CDT
Greatest eclipse: 5:55 a.m. CDT
Total eclipse ends: 6:24 a.m. CDT
Partial eclipse ends: 7:34 a.m. CDT

Mountain Daylight Time (October 8, 2014)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 3:15 a.m. MDT on October 8
Total eclipse begins: 4:25 a.m. MDT on October 8
Greatest eclipse: 4:55 a.m. MDT
Total eclipse ends: 5:24 a.m. MDT
Partial eclipse ends: 6:34 a.m. MDT

Pacific Daylight Time (October 8, 2014)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 2:15 a.m. PDT on October 8
Total eclipse begins: 3:25 a.m. PDT
Greatest eclipse: 3:55 a.m. PDT
Total eclipse ends: 4:24 a.m. PDT
Partial eclipse ends: 5:34 a.m. PDT

If you can’t view the eclipse outside in your area, you can watch it live online here and here.

Fred Espenak of NASA said, “The most unique thing about the 2014-2015 tetrad is that all of them are visible from all or parts of the U.S.A.”


3. There Are Three Types of Lunar Eclipses

There are three times of lunar eclipses, including a total lunar eclipse. The other two types are the penumbral lunar eclipse and the partial lunar eclipse.

A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the very outskirts of Earth’s shadow. It is so subtle, most people don’t notice it.

A partial lunar eclipse is much more noticeable event, when the Moon goes deeper into the core of Earth’s shadow, just enough to display a fraction of Moon becoming darkened.


4. This Eclipse Is Part of a Tetrad — the Last Tetrad Till 2032

The total lunar eclipse on October 8 is the second of a tetrad, the term for four total lunar eclipses in a row with no partial eclipses in between. The first was on April 15, 2014, and the final two will be on April 4, 2015, and September 28, 2015.

This will be the last Tetrad until 2032-33. Tetrads come in cycles, and there was a 300-year period when there were no tetrads before the 20th century.


5. It’s a Sign of the Apocalypse (Says a Prominent Televangelist)

pastor john hagee, blood moon, total lunar eclipse october 8

Televangelist pastor John Hagee believes the blood moon is a sign of the apocalypse. (Getty)

Historically, total lunar eclipse meant different things to different cultures. The Egyptians believed a sow was swallowing the moon, Mayans believed it was a jaguar, and the Chinese a dragon. In India it was believed bad for pregnant women, and Pakistan saw it as a time for seeking forgiveness.

Some Christians historically believed it signaled God’s wrath and even the end of times. And apparently that belief persists to this day. Recently, televangelist Pastor John Hagee wrote a book titled Four Blood Moons suggesting this tetrad represents a sign of the end times and the apocalypse, connecting historical events to the lunar phases and to Jewish holidays. It’s worth noting that Jewish holidays are based on the lunar calendar, and Passover is always marked by a full moon.

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