On April 4, 2015 a Total Lunar Eclipse will be visible from most of North America, South America, Asia and parts of Australia. Here are 10 facts you should know about this Eclipse.
1. It’s the First Lunar Eclipse of 2015
2015 has 4 eclipses, the minimum number of eclipses that can happen in a calendar year. The first eclipse of the year, a Total Solar Eclipse took place on March 20 Two weeks later, on April 4, 2015 the Earth will move between the Sun and the Moon to mark the first Lunar Eclipse of 2015 – a Total Lunar Eclipse This will be followed by a Partial Solar Eclipse on September 13, 2015 and another Total Lunar Eclipse on September 28
2. It’s Part of a Lunar Tetrad
The April 4, 2015 Total Lunar Eclipse is the third in a series of four Total Lunar Eclipses called the lunar tetrad The first two eclipses of the tetrad took place on April 15, 2014 and October 8, 2014 The last eclipse will be on September 28, 2015
Notice something interesting about the dates? Each of the Lunar Eclipses in the tetrad occurs about 6 months apart and has 5 full Moons between them!
Lunar tetrads can be rare in some centuries and can occur frequently in others. The 21st century will have eight lunar tetrads, the maximum number of lunar tetrads that can occur in a century. The last time this happened was in the 9th century!
The next lunar tetrad of the 21st century will start with the Total Lunar Eclipse on April 25, 2032
3. People in the U.S. Will Have Front Row Seats
Each of the eclipses in the tetrad is visible from all or many locations in the United States, weather permitting. People on the west coast of the U.S. will have some of the best views of the April 4, 2015 Total Lunar Eclipse. Some locations, however, may not be able to see the last stages of the Eclipse because they will happen after Moonset.
The U.S. East Coast will be able to see only a Partial Lunar Eclipse since totality will take place after the Moon sets at these locations. Parts of Alaska and Hawaii on the other hand, will be treated to a striking eclipse of the Moon – from start to finish.
The eclipse will also be visible to people in Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
4. Sunrise & Sunset Eclipse
For those in North America, the Eclipse will take place just before Sunrise, while for those in Australia and New Zealand, the Eclipse will take place after Sunset.
5. It’s Being Called a Blood Moon
In recent years, the term Blood Moon has been frequently used to refer to Total Lunar Eclipses. Some sources suggest that the origin of the term in the context of the 2014-2015 lunar tetrad can be traced to Christian pastors Mark Blitz and John Hagee, who claim that the eclipses fulfill a Biblical prophecy of forthcoming difficult and trying times.
On the other hand, Blood Moon is not a scientific term used by astronomers. It is possible that the term came to describe Total Lunar Eclipses because of the reddish color the eclipsed Moon takes on during totality. This happens because of Rayleigh scattering, the same mechanism that causes colorful sunrises and sunsets and the sky to look blue.
6. Despite Rumors the World Will Not End
The views of pastors Blitz and Hagee gathered attention in early 2014, because the eclipses in the tetrad coincide with important Jewish festivals. The eclipses in April 2014 and April 2015 occur at the same time as Passover while the October 2014 and September 2015 eclipses occur during the Feast of Tabernacles Some people took this coincidence as a sign of the end times.
Others have dismissed any apocalyptic significance of the tetrad. Data of past eclipses show that at least eight lunar tetrads have coincided with Jewish holidays since the First Century. Additionally, the Jewish Calendar is a lunar calendar and Passover always occurs around a Full Moon. And because a Total Lunar Eclipse can only occur on a Full Moon night it is very likely for an eclipse to take place on or near Passover.
In conclusion, scientists and astronomers have found no reason to believe that the current lunar tetrad is a sign of the world to end. Even mainstream religious organizations have debunked this claim, so don’t start hording end-of-the-world supplies just yet!
7. Shortest Totality
The April 4, 2015 Total Lunar Eclipse is noteworthy for one more reason – totality will last only for 4 minutes and 43 seconds. This makes it the shortest Total Lunar Eclipse of the 21st century!
The whole Eclipse from start to finish will take 5 hours and 57 minutes. Due to the short totality, many sources are labelling the Eclipse as a Partial Lunar Eclipse.
This century’s longest totality during a Total Lunar Eclipse will take place on July 27, 2018 Totality will last for 1 hour 42 minutes.
8. Part of Lunar Saros Series 132
Like Solar Eclipses Lunar Eclipses tend to occur in 18 year long cycles called Saros Cycles. Lunar Eclipses separated by a Saros Cycle share similar features, including time of the year and the distance of the Moon from the Earth Eclipses that are separated by a Saros Cycle are included in a Saros Series.
The April 4, 2015 Lunar Eclipse belong to Saros Series 132. The series that includes 71 lunar eclipses began with a penumbral eclipse on May 12, 1492 and will end with another penumbral eclipse on June 26, 2754.
9. You Won’t Need Protective Equipment to See the Eclipse
Lunar eclipses are some of the most spectacular and easy to view astronomical events. Unlike solar eclipses, which require specialized eye wear, a lunar eclipse can be viewed with the naked eye.
10. A Solar Eclipse Took Place Two Weeks Ago
Solar and Lunar Eclipses come in pairs – a Lunar Eclipse always takes place two weeks before or after a Solar Eclipse. The April 4, 2015 Total Lunar Eclipse was preceded by a Total Solar Eclipse that was visible in Europe.