Thursday, 17 April 2014 | MYT 4:40 PM

'Blood moon' eclipse mesmerises earthlings, inspires selfies, prophecies

A rare celestial event occurred on Tuesday when the Earth’s shadow eclipsed the moon in full, turning it orange, hence ‘blood moon’. With a name like that, of course apocalyptic prophecies are inevitable. 

The lunar eclipse unfolded over three hours beginning at about 2am EDT, when the moon began moving into Earth’s shadow. A little more than an hour later, the moon could be seen eclipsed and bathed in an orange, red or brown glow.

More orange than bloody: The 'blood moon' is a total lunar eclipse, when it is completely enveloped in Earth's shadow as the planet comes between the moon and the sun. The orange colour is a result of the moon reflecting the red end of the colour spectrum from the sun which still illuminates it, just not at full strength. – Reuters

Depending on local weather conditions, the eclipse was visible across a swath of the US. Viewers from Florida to California and beyond went to viewing parties and social media and other websites to gawk and share selfies with the so-called 'blood moon'. 

A small crowd of stargazers who gathered on a roadside north of Los Angeles saw a sliver of still-illuminated moon and a reddish shadow cast across the lunar orb.

A view of the lunar eclipse in progress from Los Angeles, California. In the photo below, people gather at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California, for a glimpse of the celestial phenomenon. – Reuters

Others who were not so lucky took to Twitter to complain about cloud cover in New Jersey and Pittsburgh. An image of rain-streaked windows under impenetrable Atlanta skies could be seen. In the Pacific Northwest city of Seattle the skies were equally overcast.

The eclipse also was visible from Australia, New Zealand and all of the Americas.

Precise colouring depends primarily on the amount of volcanic ash and other aerosols floating in the atmosphere, SpaceWeather.com reports.

The celestial show was over by over by 5:30am EDT, NASA said on Twitter.

Rare but common

Eclipses occur two or three times per year when the sun, Earth and the full moon line up so that the moon passes through Earth’s shadow. Tuesday’s eclipse will be the last full lunar eclipse visible from the United States until 2019, NASA said.

According to NASA's eclipse website which published dates of lunar eclipses over the past five millennium, there will be a tetrad of 'blood moons' over the next two years, which begins with the one on Tuesday. A tetrad happens when four total lunar eclipses occur in a row with intervals of six lunar cycles. The next three will occur on Oct 8, 2014; April 4, 2015; and Sep 28, 2015.

Five tetrads have occured in the 20th century, between: 1909–1910, 1927–1928, 1949–1950, 1967–1968, and 1985–1986. The first tetrad in the 21st century occurred in 2003–2004, and six more will occur. You can see the dates here

'Blood Moon prophecy' 

Past tetrads that coincided with violent events have given rise to the outrageous Blood Moon prophecy, formed by controversial US evangelist Mark Biltz who first made the claim in 2008 that this ongoing tetrad of 'blood moons' will bring significant changes to the world. Biltz' claims found support in fellow evangelist John Hagee, who is also no stranger to conspiracy theories.

While Biltz believes that the final eclipse on Sep 28, 2015 will mark the Second Coming, Hagee says that the tetrad will have serious implications for the course of history in Israel. Both have written books and spoken at length detailing their claims. 

Needless to say, the two evangelists have received heavy criticism from skeptics who say they're merely spreading and profiting from unfounded speculation based on their biased interpretations of the Bible and historical events, which they arbitrarily connected to past tetrads and then passing off the coincidences as evidence to back up their theory.

Come on, people, it's only the moon passing through the shadow of the earth. Just take a selfie. – Reuters

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle , Features , Science , Astronomy , Nature , lunar , eclipse , blood moon , US , John Hagee , Mark Biltz , conspiracy theory , prophecy


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