Blood Moon: Total Lunar Eclipse Expected April 15

A blood moon is expected during a total lunar eclipse on April 15. The eclipse will begin at approximately 3:07 am EST, with full coverage occurring at around 3:36 am EST. The entire eclipse will last just over an hour. As the sun’s rays reflect off the Earth’s atmosphere, the moon is expected appear deep orange or “blood-red” in color.

A lunar eclipse occurs when Earth is positioned directly between the moon and sun. As a result, the sun’s rays are blocked from reaching the moon directly. Instead, the light is reflected off Earth. The reflected rays of light cause the moon to glow with an orange-red tint.

Although a blood moon is expected, the brilliance and shade of red can be affected by temperature, humidity, and the amount of dust particles in the Earth’s atmosphere. During times of heavy volcanic activity, eclipses are often difficult to see.

As reported by Earth Sky, the phrase “blood moon” is not an astronomical term. Although the true origin of the phrase is unknown, some believe it is linked to Biblical prophecy. Most recently, two prominent Christian ministers have used the term in discussion about the end times.

Pastors Mark Blitz and John Hagee have cited scripture, which suggests the moon will turn to blood during the apocalypse.

The upcoming lunar eclipse will mark the first of four expected within the next two years. The trend, which is called a tetrad, is quite uncommon. However, some religious leaders believe this tetrad is significant.

The eclipses occurring in April 2014 and 2015 will coincide with Passover. The eclipses occurring in October this year, and September next year, are expected during the feast of Tabernacles.

Although some believe a blood moon signifies religious prophesy, others are simply interested in viewing a rare and unusual occurrence.

During the lunar eclipse, sky watchers are also encouraged to look for Mars, which will appear bright red on the right side of the moon. The star Spica is also expected to shine brightly during the eclipse.

Those wishing to view the eclipse are reminded that the best place to view astronomical events is away from city lights. The eclipse is expected to appear on the southwestern horizon just after 3:00 am EST and will end by 5:33 am.

Following the lunar eclipse on April 15, blood moons are also expected to appear on October 8, and April and October 2015.

[Image via Shutterstock]