Sky watchers are getting ready for an evening of special viewing when a total lunar eclipse arrives just after midnight on April 15.
What’s more, this begins a rare sequence of four total lunar eclipses expected over the next two years.
Some Christians see this series of so-called blood moons as linked to a biblical prophecy of the End Times.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon line up so the Earth’s shadow falls on the moon, darkening it.
The one on April 15 will begin at 1:20 a.m. on the East Coast, according to Sky and Telescope magazine.
“Eclipses are one of the few astronomical events that can easily be enjoyed with the naked eye,” though a pair of binoculars brings it into even greater focus, said astronomy writer Gary Kronk.
As it begins, “the Earth’s shadow will make a slow crawl across the moon’s face, appearing as if there is an increasingly large ‘bite’ taken out of the moon,” said Deborah Byrd with EarthSky.org, an online science magazine.
At first, the full moon will just appear to be a little darker than normal, “but eventually people will notice a much darker arc moving across the moon, with a distinct rusty reddish-brown color,” said astronomer Gerald McKeegan at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, Calif.
The bloody red color the moon takes on during an eclipse is caused by refraction of sunlight by the Earth’s atmosphere.
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SOURCE: Elizabeth Weise