Five Facts About Lunar Eclipses, Ahead of Saturday's Blood Moon Total Eclipse
In light of the total lunar eclipse on Saturday April 4, please enjoy these five facts about lunar eclipses!
1. Lunar Eclipses Happen When the Moon is Full
Just as solar eclipses always happen at the new moon, lunar eclipses always happen at the full moon. During a lunar eclipse, the moon passes directly behind the Earth into its shadow (called the umbra). This can only happen during a full moon because the Earth, Sun and Moon must be aligned exactly (also known as in syzygy, the coolest word ever!)
Saturday morning’s lunar eclipse will be visible in the Americas and Asia starting at 3:16AM PT/ 6:16AM ET, with totality happening at 4:58AM PT. Those living east of the Mississippi river will only see a partial eclipse because it will be interrupted by sunlight, whereas those living west of the Mississippi will see the total eclipse (weather conditions permitting).
2. While The Term “Blood Moon” is New to Astronomy, Nearly All Total Lunar Eclipses Appear Some Shade of Red
The full moon almost always appears a coppery shade of red during a total lunar eclipse because of the sunlight that is filtered and refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere. (The only time it wouldn’t look red is when pronounced volcanic activity might make the moon’s face appear more brownish or gray in color.)
During a lunar eclipse, Earth’s shadow is visible creeping across the moon’s face, and this shadow will grow until it completely covers the moon. Then at totality, when the moon is fully covered by the Earth’s shadow, the blood red tinge will appear. This short NASA video does a phenomenal job describing why the moon turns red during an eclipse.
According to the astronomy experts at Earth Sky. org the term “Blood Moon” is new to astronomy per say, and actually comes from biblical prophecy, specifically, Christian Pastor John Hagee’s 2013 book, Four Blood Moons.
What makes Saturday’s blood moon so significant from a religious prophecy perspective is that it is part of a rare series of four full lunar eclipses each spaced out six months apart, known as a lunar tetrad…all falling on Jewish holidays!
3. Lunar Eclipses Last Much Longer than Solar Eclipses.. Although Saturday’s is the Shortest This Century!
Lunar eclipses can often last hours, while solar eclipses usually only last a few short minutes. During some lunar eclipses, totality (where the moon is completely covered by Earth’s shadow) can last up to an hour. However, Saturday’s lunar eclipse is the shortest of the entire century according to NASA, with totality lasting only 4 minutes and 43 seconds!
Make sure to be outside no later than 4:58 AM PT to see it!
4. It is Unclear if Lunar Eclipses Influence People’s Feelings and Behavior
All the talk of biblical prophecy aside, in many cultures the belief exists that full moons and lunar eclipses have some kind of impact of human feelings and behavior. For example, in ancient cultures, it was strongly believed that the lunar cycle impacted women’s hormones and fertility.
Given that full moons do impact the tides, and the human body is at least 70% water, maybe it makes sense that lunar eclipses could have some impact on women’s menstrual cycles or on the body’s circadian rhythm.
5. Astrologically, Lunar Eclipses Are Believed to be Auspicious Times for Growth, Release and New Beginnings
In the astrological world, lunar eclipses are usually associated with releasing what no longer serves you to create new beginnings and spur your personal growth. However, the exact changes that are stimulated will depend quite a lot on the astrological signs that the sun and the moon fall into during the eclipse.
My advice is to never forget that the most important relationship you have is the one with YOURSELF and that you must also nurture and put love into this relationship! Just imagine what it would be like to be your own cheerleader, and you gave support and love yourself in the same way you do to your friends and loved ones. NOW is that time for you to love yourself unconditionally and release any self-loathing or self-doubt you are still carrying.
Blessings and Love!
Cover Image from Pachamama.org