Turn your gaze to the stars tonight for an eerie and spectacular view of the “blood moon.” At 12:53 a.m. ET, the Earth will begin to position itself between the sun and the moon for the first of a series of four total eclipses to conclude in September 2015.
The phenomenon is known as a tetrad, in which the moon is completely covered by the earth’s umbral shadow for four eclipses in a row, as opposed to only partial eclipses that fall in the outer penumbra. But rather than succumbing to complete darkness, the moon will glow red as it receives the refracted light that spills over the Earth’s circumference.
The series is a rare occurrence in history, with large spans of time, such as the 300 years between 1600 and 1900, witnessing none. But the 21st century will be more promising, according to Fred Espenak, who works for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and specializes in eclipse predictions.
“Frequency sort of goes through 585-year cycles,” the astrophysicist explains. “So you go through centuries where you don’t have any, and centuries where you have a number of them.”
The next tetrad will begin in 2032.
Here’s how it looks from our house, taken by Natalie between homeworks!
1:10am, with the eclipse starting to wind down:
1:30am. The blue star is Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, and the 15th brightest star in the night sky. It is a blue giant and a variable star of the Beta Cephei type located 260 light years from Earth.
Reader JQ sent this in, taken from his house: