The metal-sounding eclipse kicks off around 2 a.m. EST

By Nate Jones
April 14, 2014 05:00 PM
Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty

A “blood moon” lunar eclipse will occur in the night sky a few hours after midnight Tuesday, and as with many natural phenomena, people have a lot of questions.

Below, we will answer every possible question you may have about the blood moon.

Blood moon, huh? That sounds pretty metal!

It certainly is potent imagery. A lot of musicians have used the image of a “blood moon” to signify mysterious forces of darkness, from Bruce Springsteen in "The Fuse" (“Blood moon rising in a sea of black dust”) to Deer Tick in "Blood Moon" (“The blood moon we see is an act of God”).

Nice. So what kind of blood is it going to be? B negative? O positive?

The moon will not actually be made of blood. It will just turn red from refracted sunlight while its orbit takes it through the shadow of Earth.

That’s disappointing.

It’s a giant space rock glowing red in the sky. That’s still pretty cool. As astronomer Phil Plait notes, at the deepest point of the eclipse, the moon is “seeing all the sunrises and sunsets on earth at that moment.”

I still don’t get why it’s red, though.

For the same basic reason sunsets are! Dust and water particles in Earth’s atmosphere are filtering out shorter-wavelength light (blues and purples), leaving visible only longer-wavelength colors like red and orange.

Too much science! Just tell me: Where can I see this thing?

Do you live in North America? Then you’ve got the best seat in the house. (Australia and East Asia will have an obstructed view, while the rest of the world doesn’t get a ticket at all.) Cloudy weather might get in the way for the East Coast, but skies should be clear for the rest of the United States.

Sweet. Can I watch it during dinner?

Not unless you keep a very odd schedule. The eclipse will start to be visible around 2 a.m. EST, culminating in full blood moon at 3:06. This will last until 4:24. You’ll probably want to set your alarm.

Is it worth it?

If you haven’t seen a blood moon before, it’s worth checking out. But if you miss this one, don’t worry – Monday night is the first of the “tetrad,” a series of four eclipses each taking place about six months apart.

First a "blood moon" and now a "tetrad"? This all sounds like something from a Dan Brown novel. Has anyone come up with any blood moon conspiracy theories?

Of course they have. Texas pastor John Hagee thinks the tetrad will be a “world-shaking event” that signifies the dawning of a new age. He’s written a book, which you can buy here.

Is the world going to end?

Someday, yes. But probably not Monday night.

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