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Blood Moon Rising: How to Watch Tuesday's Total Lunar Eclipse

When is the best time to watch the "blood moon" in the Bay Area? Read on.

April's blood moon eclipse will show itself on April 15, 2014. Photo Credit: jurvetson, via flickr creative commons
April's blood moon eclipse will show itself on April 15, 2014. Photo Credit: jurvetson, via flickr creative commons

By Jaimie Cura 

The lunar eclipse on April 15 is being referred to as a blood moon eclipse and if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why.

The most obvious answer seems to be: “Because it looks red.” According to EarthSky, a full moon almost always takes on a copper hue during a total lunar eclipse, due to light dispersion from the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets.

“Thus the term blood moon can be and probably is applied to any and all total lunar eclipses,” EarthSky reports.

But with the publication of a 2013 book by John Hagee titled “Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change,” the term has taken on a religious component.

“From what we’ve been able to gather, two Christian pastors, Mark Blitz and John Hagee, use the term Blood Moon to apply to the full moons of the upcoming tetrad – four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons) – in 2014 and 2015,” Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd write in this EarthSky article on the blood moon eclipse.

Definition recap: A lunar tetrad is a series of four consecutive total lunar eclipses that take place in six month intervals, approximately. That means that over the next two years, we’ll see four lunar eclipses.

Add to that a bit of biblical prophecy the lunar tetrad is thought to fulfill, something Hagee writes about in his book, and that’s why the folks at EarthSky think the term “blood moon” is gaining in popularity.

When to Watch

Night owls, rejoice: in the Bay Area, the lunar eclipse will begin around 9:55 p.m. on Monday, April 14 and will end at 3:36 a.m. on Tuesday, April 15. Check out this handy eclipse calculator for more info on when to watch in your area.

In the East Bay, the Chabot Space Center is selling tickets for skywatchers to attend a presentation about the eclipse and to watch as it happens. Click here to get more info. Check the local weather to find out if the sky will be clear for viewing.

Bonus Celestial Stuff

Mars will make an appearance near the eclipsed moon. Red planet, red moon — I’m seeing a theme here…

Don’t forget to mark your calendars! Here’s the approximate dates for the rest of the lunar eclipses in the tetrad:

  • Oct. 8, 2014
  • April 4, 2015
  • Sept. 28, 2015
Happy moon-gazing to all! If you take pictures of the lunar eclipse, we'd love to see them! Feel free to post in our Town Square, under the "Conversations" tab above.
Chris Heston April 15, 2014 at 11:49 AM
Seriously Caroline? Too busy to read an article, so now it's the Editor's job to summarize everything in the headline for you? I've been reading about this eclipse on Patch for several days. Somehow I knew from Patch this was coming and went out last night to look at it. The article even goes so far as to include upcoming other eclipses to spoon-feed people too busy to read! It's amazing the entitlement that is occurring in modern society. People complain about FREE news and expect everything to be done for them. If you're unhappy with your free news, Caroline, cancel your subscription.
Nicki Layne April 15, 2014 at 01:39 PM
Perfect view from my patio last night in Benicia! A friend and I watched for a few hours and it was magical. :)
Paul Kamen April 15, 2014 at 03:08 PM
It cleared up nicely for the eclipse, as viewed from the upper deck of Berkeley Yacht Club. The theme of this year's eclipse class was 15th Century Chinese Survey Techniques. By observing the same eclipse at widely separated locations, and then measuring the time difference to meridian transit of a known star or planet (using a water clock), ancient map-makers could establish longitude with surprising accuracy. Last night us amateurs came within 23 seconds of getting the time of the start of totality correct (after averaging all the guesses), which is only a 4.5 mile error in longitude. We'll do this again in October.
wendy April 15, 2014 at 03:30 PM
Mesmerizing!!! Couldn't stop watching! I I got some eerie interesting fotos.
Nicki Layne April 15, 2014 at 03:37 PM
@wendy ~ I hope you share them! We tried to get pictures but they weren't turning out and I would love to have a few...

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