Who doesn’t love eclipses?! Be it lunar eclipses or solar ones. Next week, a spectacular astronomical event is to occur, to the delight of both scientists and amateurs. The total lunar eclipse has been forecast to happen on the 15th of April at 3:42 a.m. GMT. (Watch blood moon LIVE below).
The lunar eclipse has earned several names, of which are:
- Full Pink Moon
- April’s Full Moon
- Blood Moon
- Sprouting Grass Moon
- Egg Moon
- Fish Moon
People from the Pacific and Atlantic regions will be able to enjoy the magnificent sight. The eclipse can be watched from both North and South American continents, in Australia, New Zealand, and some other regions in the Pacific. It has been reported that the eclipse is expected to last for around 80 minutes; 77 minutes to be exact.
What is so special about a blood moon?
Well, its various names do provide some clue about this. Pink, blood, wanna guess? During the eclipse, the moon will demonstrate a red hue on its surface. Sun rays passing through our planet’s atmosphere hits the moon, and a tint of red is what is given off, hence the name blood/pink moon. It has also been said that the lunar eclipse got its name from the first spring flowers; the blossoming of the moss pink spring flower.
How does this work?
In a nutshell, lunar eclipses occur because of the alignment of the heavenly bodies in orbit. So, each astronomical body flows in its own orbit. There comes a time where they align to each other, such that they appear to be one after another. When this alignment occurs, the shadow of one falls onto the other.
This is exactly what happens during lunar eclipses: the Earth and its satellite, the moon, align, resulting in the shadowing of the moon by our planet. Because of this phenomenon, the moon appears darkened because of the effect of the Earth’s shadow on its surface. The refraction of sunlight through planet Earth’s atmosphere results in the crimson colour bathing the moon. Ever wondered why sunsets appear red? It is this very same refraction of light that occurs, conferring a red hue to the sunsets.
What also makes of this particular lunar event more special is the fact that it forms part of a a series of 4 consecutive lunar eclipses at one time.
Another lunar eclipse event is due on the 8th of October this year. Following up, next year, 2 more lunar eclipses are to occur on the 4th of April of 2015, and on the 28th of September 2015. This phenomenon whereby 4 lunar eclipses occur consecutively is called a tetrad – four lunar eclipses in one row.