Blood moon rising: Lunar eclipse isn’t just for scientists

Early in the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 8, Bridget Geraghty ’16 sat outside with her family and their telescope and waited for the moon to turn red.

The phenomenon of a full moon acquiring a crimson tinge during a total lunar eclipse is known as a blood moon. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon is in the Earth’s shadow.

Geraghty joined her parents and brother at 4:30 a.m., but they left for coffee before the moon’s reddish tinge grew to a full red. A telescope is the most clear way to view a blood moon, but even stargazers relying on the naked eye can see and appreciate the spectacle.

“It didn’t actually look red,” Geraghty said, later describing it as an orangish color.“It was still really cool.”

The blood moon’s coloration comes from the reflected light from the sun’s rays, hitting the moon at just the right angle for visibility on Earth, according to CNN.

The blood-red color lasted about an hour, said the Daily Mail, and during the lunar eclipse, the moon appeared 5.3 percent larger than it did during the April 15 eclipse.

According to NASA, this particular blood moon is part of what scientists call a lunar eclipse tetrad, “a series of 4 consecutive total eclipses occurring at approximately 6 month intervals.” Four blood moons in a row is a relatively rare occurrence. The first blood moon of this tetrad occurred April 15, 2014, and the next two will be on April 4 and Sept. 28, 2015. This entire tetrad is visible in North America; the most recent eclipse on Oct. 8 was not visible from Europe or Africa.

Aimee Schreiber, a second-year graduate student in the MLIS program, was driving to Mankato when the blood moon was visible.

“I really caught where it was shifting down over the moon,” Schreiber said. “It was exciting because usually when there are astronomical occurrences in the Midwest, it is usually raining, or not in our atmosphere.”

The clarity of the night also impressed Geraghty.

“We really lucked out because there were no clouds at all. It was completely clear. I saw more stars than I’ve seen in a long time,” Geraghty said.

Not everyone is willing to wake up early to witness a lunar eclipse. Nusaiba Imady ’15 said she didn’t see the eclipse because she values her sleep more than she values the moon.

Those disappointed in missing the first two blood moons of this tetrad can plan on rising early when April rolls around, if this unique type of lunar eclipse intrigues them.

For pictures of the Oct. 8 blood moon and more information, see http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/08/tech/innovation/second-blood-moon/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2784313/Are-ready-BLOOD-MOON-Rare-red-lunar-eclipse-appear-second-time-year-tonight.html

Click here for more information on lunar eclipses

Taylor can be reached at tcharwood@stkate.edu.

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