A rare “blood moon” eclipse will be visible in the North and South American skies tonight when the Earth’s shadow covers the full moon in an eerie red glow.
These “blood moons” occur when the moon passes through the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow called the umbra. But instead of eclipsing into total darkness, sunlight passing around Earth’s edges will give the moon a coppery red color tonight. Phil Plait, astronomer and blogger for Slate, said at that moment the moon is being lit by all the sunrises and sunsets on Earth.
In the next year and a half, there will be four blood moons, which is a rare phenomenon that astronomers have a name for: a tetrad. Tetrads come and go, according to NASA lunar eclipse expert Fred Espenak. Some centuries have several, and the 21st century will have eight.
However, there were none between 1600 and 1900.
“Neither Sir Isaac Newton, Mozart, Queen Anne, George Washington, Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln nor their contemporaries ever had a chance to see one. So, we’re in luck.” CNN writer Ben Brumfield said.
The next four blood moons will be on these days: April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; April 4, 2015, and September 28, 2015.
Tonight’s lunar eclipse begins at 2:00 a.m. EDT, and the moon will be its reddest at approximately 3:00 a.m. EDT. NASA will be a hosting an online event at 1:00 a.m. EDT where stargazers can ask experts questions and view a livestream of eclipse.