The blood moon is due on April 4. Photo: Noel Munford A QUT-generated image of what it would look like to witness the blood moon from the surface of the moon itself. Photo: David Sawell.
QUT astrophysicist Dr Stephen Hughes. Photo: Supplied
Is it an omen of foreboding? A symbol of change? An Easter message?
No, it’s just a rare and striking astronomical event.
This Saturday will see the moon turn red during a total lunar eclipse, when the moon passes directly into the earth’s shadow.
QUT astrophysicist Dr Stephen Hughes said it was the third blood moon in a series of four such occurrences, collectively known as a tetrad.
“A blood moon occurs when the orbit of the Moon is nearly perfectly aligned with the orbit of the Earth around the Sun,” he said.
“The simultaneous occurrence of all sunsets and sunrises on the rim of the Earth, make the Moon red.”
Each eclipse within a tetrad occurs six months apart, with no partial lunar eclipses in between them.
The last tetrad was in 2003/2004 and the next one is not until 2032/2033. The final event in the current tetrad will be in September this year, but will only be visible in the northern hemisphere.
Dr Hughes said only local weather conditions would stop south east Queenslanders observing the phenomenon between 9 and 11pm.
“When it starts the moon will be about 40 degrees high, so it’ll be nearly halfway up the sky,” he said.
“Everyone should see it – although you might not with all this cloud.”
Totality, the point at which the entire surface of the moon was covered, was expected to last no more than five minutes, making this eclipse the shortest so far in the 21st century.
If lucky enough to get clear skies, those wishing to take a photograph of the blood moon will need to use a tripod and a long exposure.
Dr Hughes and QUT graphic designer manipulated images from the Apollo landings to give an idea what it would be like to witness the blood moon from the Moon itself.
“You would see a rim of fire around the Earth, due to the combined effect of all of the sunsets and all of the sunrises shining at the same time,” he said.
Blood moons have been observed for millennia, even referenced in the Bible in reference to the apocalypse and the possible return of Jesus Christ.
Joel 2:30-31 reads “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”
Dr Hughes said people shouldn’t fear sudden upheaval.
“There’s no relationship between celestial events and political events… where it’s mentioned in the Bible, it’s used symbolically, that’s my opinion.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.