The second full lunar eclipse of 2014 will occur in the early morning hours of October 8, producing a “blood moon” that will be bigger and better than the last one in April of this year.
Wednesday’s blood moon is the second in a sequence of four, called a tetrad, which will occur roughly every six months in 2014 and 2015. The last one will appear on September 28, 2015.
During total lunar eclipses, the moon passes into Earth’s shadow, causing the planet to darken the face of the moon, according to NASA. Instead of making the moon go completely dark, the moon appears red during a total eclipse because it reflects light from the sun coming through Earth’s atmosphere – thus the term “blood moon.”
But red isn’t necessarily the only color seen during a lunar eclipse. Some people claimed to have seen a bit of turquoise during an eclipse as well. The sun hitting the upper stratosphere can explain this.
“During a lunar eclipse, most of the light illuminating the moon passes through the stratosphere, where it is reddened by scattering,” University of Colorado atmospheric scientist Richard Keen said. “However, light passing through the upper stratosphere penetrates the ozone layer, which absorbs red light and actually makes the passing light ray bluer.”
Since this blood moon happens right after the perigee, or closest point to Earth in the moon’s orbit, it will be nearly the size of a super moon – roughly 5.3 percent larger than the one that occurred in April of this year.
NASA says the West Coast will have the best view of the eclipse, which will happen between 3:25 a.m. and 4:24 a.m. Pacific time Wednesday morning. On the East Coast, the eclipse will begin at 6:25 a.m. Eastern Time and last until 7:24 a.m.
“It promises to be a stunning sight, even from the most light-polluted cities,” NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak said in a statement. “I encourage everyone, especially families with curious children, to go out and enjoy the event.”
This interesting Space.com video explains the October blood moon.
Many people give the blood moon tetrad mystical or religious significance, as explained in an Inquisitr article from earlier this year. But according to Espenak, having four total eclipses in a row is a rare occurrence that sky watchers should enjoy.
He notes that, although there will be quite a few tetrads in the 21st century, before 1900 there was a 300-year period when there were none. To produce a blood moon during an eclipse, the sun and moon both have to be in just the right positions — and that doesn’t always happen.
Will you be watching the blood moon?
[Image via Free Wallpaper 4 Me]