I thought I wasn’t going to find a real, scientific video explanation of the “blood moon” phenomenon happening tonight, because I had to look through so many pages of nonsense about this being God’s warning to Israel or the end of the world or some other such lunacy. (Maybe I should have expected lunacy, since this is about Luna.)
One site says, “A mysterious blood moon will be visible on April 15, marking the beginning of a lunar “tetrad,” and, some think, the beginning of the end of the world.” This is nonsense. Tonight’s “blood moon” is not mysterious, as the video shows. And it has NOTHING to do with the end of the world.
It continues, “April 15 will kick off the ‘Blood Moon Tetrad’, a rare series of four blood-red lunar eclipses, each followed by six full moons.” OK. So what? Don’t we have a full moon every month? Again, this is total nonsense. Tonight’s “blood moon” and the following six full moons are NOT mysterious, and they have NOTHING to do with the end of the world or any prophecy. This is just something that happens sometimes, at predictable intervals, and there’ll be eight more of them before the end of this century.
There is NOTHING SUPERNATURAL — or even unusual — about the eclipse of the moon, and that’s all this is. Eclipses are well understood and can be predicted accurately for thousands of years in advance. Because of the tilt of earth’s orbit around the sun and the tilt of the moon’s orbit around earth, eclipses come in irregular, but predictable, intervals of time. Tonight’s eclipse, though, is unusual only in that it begins a tetrad, which means it will be the first of four total eclipses approximately six months apart. The first is tonight, and will be visible all across North America if the weather permits.
The next three will occur in roughly six-month intervals on October 8, 2014, April 4, 2015, and September 28, 2015.
Expect a lot of superstitious shouting about tetrads for the rest of the century, because there will be nine of them. Nine times that we’ll have four total eclipses about six months apart. If this first one demonstrates anything, the internet will be buzzing with superstition every time. Ignore it. It is all nonsense.
According to Space.com, “For the Western Hemisphere, the eclipse will ‘officially’ begin on April 15 at 12:53 a.m. EDT (0435 GMT), when the moon begins to enter Earth’s outer, or penumbral shadow. But even in clear weather, skywatchers will not notice any changes in the moon’s appearance until about 50 minutes later, when a slight ‘smudge’ or shading starts becoming evident on the left portion of the moon’s disk.”
Slate’s “Bad Astronomer” Phil Plait says “, , , the real action doesn’t begin until 05:58 UTC on the 15th, which is just before 02:00 EDT, so it’s a bit late. You might just want to stay up for it, though.”
I won’t likely be able to see it, but I will if I can.
The nonsense came from this second one, although it could have just as well come from any of several dozen other sites. Maybe more.