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Star-gazers and conspiracy theorists attracted by ‘blood moon’

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Those desiring to see something akin to all the sunrises and all the sunsets in the world at the same time need to arise early Tuesday morning (April 15th) to view a total lunar eclipse that will turn the full moon red.

This total lunar eclipse will be the first in a series of four appearing every six months, a phenomenon called a "tetrad" – something not particularly rare for this century, according to NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak.

While a total lunar eclipse is an interesting sight for those who like to stargaze, there are others who believe the oncoming blood moon and tetrad bring something else – tidings of doom. According to CTV, "Conspiracy websites draw parallels between lunar eclipses and historical events, like the fall of Constantinople and the founding of the State of Israel," and that the last blood moon occurred when the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.

​The biggest proponent for any conspiracy concerning the upcoming blood moons may very well be Pastor John Hagee, who released a book titled "Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change in 2013." With all four blood moons being viewable from the United States, Hagee claims that "the four blood moons that will soon appear in the skies over America are evidence of a future 'world-shaking event.'"

The color of the blood moon is caused by the light from sunsets and sunrises glinting off the surface of the Earth. As sun light bends around outer edges of the planet, the light shines into the Earth’s shadow, transforming the Moon into a rust-colored orb. It is similar to that which occurs when the sun turns the clouds red or pink during a sunrise or sunset.

This phenomenon will be visible across the Western Hemisphere from approximately 3 a.m. ET to 4:24 a.m. when the moon will be eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow for the first time this year. Three more total eclipses are expected at six-month intervals: the second on October 8, 2014; the third on April 4, 2015; and the fourth on September 28, 2015.

After the final blood moon rises in September 2015, the next tetrad is predicted to begin on April 25, 2032.

1982 Total Lunar Eclipse
1982 Total Lunar Eclipse Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

1982 Total Lunar Eclipse

1982 Total Lunar Eclipse in Geminii
The very dark total lunar eclipse of December 30, 1982 was captured with a simple 35mm camera on a tripod. If you look very closely, you may find the outline of the moon.

Star trail
Star trail Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Star trail

The star trail technique was used to take this photo during the total lunar eclipse of January 21, 2000.
The lens aperture was opened to f/5.6 during totality.
The narrow lines which parallel the Moon's path are images of bright stars.
 

 

2000 Total Eclipse Over Maui
2000 Total Eclipse Over Maui Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

2000 Total Eclipse Over Maui

The Multiple Exposure technique was used during the total lunar eclipse of July 16, 2000 from Maui.
A Nikon 8008 in multiple exposure mode was used to capture the entire eclipse on one frame of film.
The basic exposure of 1/125 second at f/5.6 was increased to 1/8 second within 15 minutes of totality
and then set to 4 seconds throughout totality.
A second exposure (metered) captures morning twilight and silhouetted palm trees.

Portrait of Totality
Portrait of Totality Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Portrait of Totality

The total lunar eclipse of Jan 20-21, 2000 was photographed from Dunkirk, Maryland. An AstroPhysics 120 EDT Refractor (5" F/6) and AP 2X Barlow produced a focal length of 1500mm. The image was made on Kodak Royal Gold 100 with a Nikon N70 camera (4 seconds at f/12).

Phases of the 2000 Total Lunar Eclipse
Phases of the 2000 Total Lunar Eclipse Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

Phases of the 2000 Total Lunar Eclipse

This photo is centered on Earth's umbral shadow and shows various stages of the total lunar eclipse of  January 20-21. 2000. The composite was made in Adobe Photoshop from nine separate photos
shot on Kodak Royal Gold 100 with a Nikon N70 camera AstroPhysics 120 EDT Refractor (5" F/6) and AP 2X Barlow (focal length of 1500mm)
 

Triple Play Totality
Triple Play Totality Courtesy NASA/JPL-CaltechThe total lunar eclipse of October 28, 2004 was widely visible from the USA. This trio of images captures the Moon at the beginning (right), middle (center) and end (left) of totality. The composite was assembled from three separa

Triple Play Totality

The total lunar eclipse of October 28, 2004 was widely visible from the USA.This trio of images captures the Moon at the beginning (right), middle (center) and end (left) of totality. The composite was assembled from three separate exposures using Adobe Photoshop.
 

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