Thousands gathered at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles between 2 and 4:30am Tuesday morning in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the rare “blood moon.” The moon took on a reddish hue and was visible in North and South America in different phases depending on location. Families in Los Angeles spread out blankets on the grass and came equipped with their binoculars and telescopes.
A blood moon is essentially a total lunar eclipse where a full moon turns into a coppery red as it passes into the Earth’s shadow. During this process the moon takes on a red hue because the moon’s bright glow dims and takes in the sunlight and sunsets of surrounding areas. The entire reddening process of the moon takes about an hour.
This astronomical event is so rare because the moon has to be full and have a large enough shadow for the total lunar eclipse to occur and be red. As more of the moon seeps through the shadows the red tint will fade and the normal silver color will appear.
Some North American cities were not as fortunate to see this sky delicacy due to showers the clouded the sky in locations such as Atlanta. Those with the greatest view of the moon were cities: Dallas, Denver, and Los Angeles.
Nasa eclipse expert Fred Espenak reports there was a 300-year period when there were no blood moons. Now there are more opportunities to take advantage of this spectacle. North America can plan to see the blood moon four more times between now and September of next year. In addition to the spotting on Tuesday it will also appear in the skies on October 8 2014, April 4th 2015, and September 8 2015. If you miss those three remaining blood moons you’ll have to wait until 2032 to see it.
Image Courtesy of CNN.