Red Moon


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A viewing quandary

The difference in these two cycles has to do with the relative positions of the sun, Earth and moon, which change during the moon's orbit.

Supermoon, Blood Moon, Blue Moon and Harvest Moon

Lunar eclipses can only happen during a full moon, when the sun fully illuminates the surface. Usually a full moon has no eclipse because the moon orbits in a slightly different plane than the Earth and the sun do. However, at times the planes coincide. Earth passes in between the moon and the sun and cuts off the sunlight, causing an eclipse. If Earth partially blocks the sun, and the darkest part of its shadow falls across the moon's surface, it is called a partial eclipse.

You will see a black shadow taking a bite out of the moon.

Sometimes, the moon passes through the lighter part of Earth's shadow, causing a penumbral eclipse. Only seasoned skywatchers will be able to tell the difference, because the moon only darkens very slightly.

Blood Moon

During a full eclipse, however, something spectacular happens. The moon is fully in Earth's shadow. At the same time, a little bit of light from Earth's sunrises and sunsets on the disk of the planet falls on the surface of the moon. Because the light waves are stretched out, they look red. When this red light strikes the moon's surface, it also appears red.

How common is a tetrad of total lunar eclipses? Depending upon the century in which you live, a lunar tetrad four consecutive total lunar eclipses may happen fairly frequently — or not at all. For instance, in our 21st century , there are a total 8 tetrads, but in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, there were none at all. If we include all the centuries from the 1st century A.

The last one happened in , and the next one will happen in The tetrad fell on the Jewish feasts of Passover and Tabernacles. That happens a total of 8 in these 21 centuries:. Common Era 2. View larger.

What are the different types of full moons?

A lunar eclipse can only happen at full moon. They used the term to apply to the full moons of the lunar tetrad — four successive total lunar eclipses, each separated by six lunar months, with no partial lunar eclipses in between. Nowadays, it seems, the term Blood Moon is being used for any and all total lunar eclipses. A planisphere is virtually indispensable for beginning stargazers. Order your EarthSky planisphere today.

He's a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.


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More amazing images of the July 2 eclipse. Watch for a young moon after sunset. Help Support EarthSky with a Donation! EarthSky Updates on your cosmos and world.

What's a Blood Moon? | Astronomy Essentials | EarthSky

Bruce McClure. Asteroid Day is June 30 4 days ago. Today's Image More amazing images of the July 2 eclipse. This Full Moon is occurring during a Supermoon when our satellite is at its closest, so looks at its largest, while January's Full Moon is often called the Wolf Moon.

As seen from North America, the Moon will be high in the sky. However, there's another reason to stay up late to watch the Moon turn a dramatic color. Holiday Weekend. This total lunar eclipse is visible to everyone on the night side of Earth at exactly the same time. So every single location within the same time zone will see everything at these times. However, if you need to check the exact timings for where you live, you can do that on the excellent timeanddate.

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