Although it sounds like something out of a gothic horror book, a “Blood Moon” is absolutely real, with the only link to blood being its hue. The Moon turns red around twice a year. The phenomenon occurs only during a total moon eclipse and is brought about by the same thing that keeps us alive: the Earth’s atmosphere.
In the year 2022, there will be four eclipses. We’ve already seen the first partial solar eclipse, and the first total lunar eclipse occurred last May 15-16. What is a Blood Moon, exactly?
What is a blood moon?
A Blood Moon is simply another name for a complete lunar eclipse, such as the one that occurred on May 15, 2022.
The Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon during a lunar eclipse, obscuring the Sun’s light. During this eclipse, the moon will be completely veiled. The Moon, on the other hand, isn’t fully dark. The Moon gradually darkens and changes color from dazzling white to orange-red as seen from Earth for a few hours.
Why is the moon red?
Sunsets and sunrises turn crimson, and so does the moon. The Earth’s atmosphere filters and scatters the sun’s light. The sky seems blue during the day because blue light is dispersed less than red light. However, when the sun is low on the horizon, the sky turns crimson.
This produces an unusual result. Despite the fact that the atmosphere is little in comparison to the size of the planet, the Earth’s shadow receives some of this diffuse light, which causes it to seem red. The Moon passes Earth’s shadow during a total lunar eclipse and appears crimson after it is entirely veiled.
It’s a beautiful sight to witness the Moon becoming darker as the shadow of our planet extends across its silvery surface, eventually turning a crimson color at the time of totality. Unlike solar eclipses, which last only a few minutes and are only visible in a tiny area of the earth, lunar eclipses can last up to two hours and are visible from everywhere on that specific night-side.
Why doesn’t the moon become red every month?
Blood moons are uncommon. Eclipses occur in long cycles and are determined by the Sun, Earth, and Moon’s positions. Because the lunar orbit is angled in relation to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, eclipses can only occur when the three bodies are exactly aligned — in syzygy. In a calendar year, there are around four to seven eclipses, split between solar and lunar eclipses. Total lunar eclipses occur twice a year for a couple of years before a hiatus, whereas solar eclipses occur two to five times a year, with a total solar eclipse occurring every 18 months.
Many people believe that because the Earth’s shadow is red, we should see that coloration on the Moon when its near side changes phase. However, the shadow cast by the Moon during waning or waxing is not from the Earth. As certain lunar parts transition into sunlight and others into nighttime, the dark zone of the lunar phases is the Moon’s own shadow.
Why is the moon not red during a partial lunar eclipse?
The reason the Moon becomes red only near totality and not before is that the Moon reflects sunlight brightly, which drowns out the faint color of the Earth’s shadow.
The moment the Moon turns red is also unpredictable since it is heavily influenced by the atmosphere and its nebulosity at the time.
When is the next blood moon?
On May 15 and 16, the first total lunar eclipse happened. It could be seen in half of North America, the majority of Central America, and all of South America. Before daybreak, parts of Western Africa and Antarctica will witness the sight. The next one will be visible over the Pacific on November 8, 2022. We’ll have to wait until March 14, 2025, after that.