If you train your eyes on the moon starting at about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, you’ll see something a little different — a blood moon.
A blood moon is essentially a more interesting way to describe a colorful total lunar eclipse, said Buddy Stark, manager of the Longway Planetarium in Flint.
Stark is in charge of educating the public on what’s going on in the night sky and keeps up with celestial events such as bright planets and eclipses. He said that depending on Earth’s atmosphere, the color of the moon will appear anywhere from orange to deep red in color.
He said that dust from a desert storm, or a large volcanic eruption affects the color of the moon during the eclipse. He believes that due to no large eruptions that he’s aware of, the eclipse won’t be deep red, but orange.
He said that before humans knew what was going on with the atmosphere, an unexplainable “blood moon” was “pretty terrifying,” and was interpreted as a bad omen.
He said today, a small subset of people try to derive more meaning from lunar patterns, but added that there’s no science to back up a change in behavior for occurrences, such as blood moons.
These eclipses are fairly rare, happening only every year or so. This is not only a lunar eclipse, but also a “super moon,” meaning the moon will be as close as it can get to Earth in its orbit, though it may not look much closer to the naked eye.
According to Bloomberg.com, this is the last lunar eclipse until March 2021, in an “unusual lull” of lunar eclipses.
Celestial phenomena tends to bring people together. “It’s kind of a special thing that we only get here on earth,” Stark said. If they were seeing life forms on other planets in our solar system, they wouldn’t be able to view eclipses as we do because of the make-up of our atmosphere, and the optical effect it has on occurrences, such as eclipses.
Other planets would simply block the object from the sun’s light and it would disappear.
Also, eclipses are free, and in this case, anyone on this side of the planet can look at it, without eye protection, unlike a solar eclipse. “For the size of our planet, our moon is gigantic,” he said.
“We’re always, as a society, interested in space and what is out there, and what they can see,” Stark said. “That’s been true for millennia.”
January 20, 2019
Blood Moon schedule
9:30 p.m. — Eclipse begins. We will see a subtle difference in the moon.
10:30 p.m. — Moon will start to change color.
11:30 p.m. — “Totality” will start, meaning the entire moon will look red or orange. It will stay in totality until about 1:30 a.m.
1:30 a.m. — The moon leaves totality.
2:30 a.m. — Moon will be back to normal.
Source: Buddy Stark, Longway Planetarium
The Blood Moon in cinema
There are at least four movies named “Blood Moon” or “Bloodmoon.”
“Blood Moon” (2014) is a horror/western about a group of stagecoach travelers, riding under the red blood moon, arriving at a deserted town, only to have to fight off werewolves.
“Bloodmoon” (1997) is a martial arts action film that “finds a retired detective returning to action to stop a martial arts master with steel fingers who is killing champions from all sports,” according to IMDB.com.
What is an eclipse?
According to space.com, “Lunar eclipses occur when Earth’s shadow blocks the sun’s light, which otherwise reflects off the moon. There are three types — total, partial and penumbral — with the most dramatic being a total lunar eclipse, in which Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon. The next lunar eclipse will be a total lunar eclipse on Jan. 20-21 and will be visible from North and South America, Europe and Africa.”