Rare ‘Tetrad’ Total Lunar Eclipse Schedule Begins Tonight with Blood Moon

Posted on: April 14th, 2014 at 10:21 am by
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Thanks to unavoidable light pollution, star-gazing is somewhat of a difficulty within the city limits. Unless you’re Felton Davis (sidewalk stargazer), the average dweller can’t see clearly; those on the Lower East Side have a better view, but it’s nothing great. But late tonight is a big astronomical event that all can behold.

There will be a total eclipse of the moon – so deeply total that it will likely be a “blood moon,” so-called because of the red color the moon may assume for nearly an hour. The eclipse spans the entire evening and night, until dawn, but the period of totality (bloody) is from 3:08 AM – 4:23 AM. Lunar eclipses happen with some frequency, but this one is very special. It turns out that it’s the first eclipse of a rare “tetrad” – four total lunar eclipses in a row, six lunar months apart. This happens on a strange schedule – several occur during one or two centuries, then none for hundreds of years.

And there’s a possible religious tie-in.

After scratching my head, it occurred to me that many Jewish holidays fall on full moons (Tu B’Shevat, Purim, Pesach, Succoth), and that the Shalosh Regalim (Three Pilgrimage Festivals) are on a 6 month cycle. So I looked at the calendar and confirmed that the four total eclipses of this rare tetrad take place on the first night (Seder) of this Passover, the first night of the coming Succoth (October 8), the first night of next Passover (April 4, 2015) and the first night of the next Succoth (September 28, 2015)! I’m busy trying to find out whether this has ever happened in the past, since the Exodus from Egypt, and how long it will be before it happens again.


Written by Harmon Bond

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