Another Blood Moon This Month

Phases of 2014 Blood Moon

When will it happen?

September 27th at approximately 8pm will mark the fourth and final blood moon in a series of a four across a quick, two-year span. The three previous occurred on April 15 2014, October 8 2014, and April 4, 2015.

Lunar Eclipse Diagram

Geometry of a Lunar Eclipse” by Sagredo – Own work, images of Earth and Moon derived from NASA images. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

What is a lunar eclipse and why is the Moon going to turn red?

As you probably know, the Earth orbits around the Sun, and the Moon orbits around the Earth. You might already know that when the Moon is full it is positioned on the opposite side of the Earth with respect to the Sun (as seen in the image to the right). Even though that alignment happens every month, we don’t get a lunar eclipse every month. That is because the plane of the orbit of the Moon is tilted by about 5 degrees to the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.  However, when the Moon is in its full phase and it lines up with the orbital plane of the Earth, the Moon passes into the small, cone-shaped shadow (umbra) cast by the Earth from the light of the Sun. That’s a lunar eclipse. As the shadow of the Earth creeps across the Moon the Moon begins to darken. Then, as the Moon is fully eclipsed it turns red. That happens because the red light from the Sun is able to pass through the atmosphere of the Earth whereas the other colors of light from the Sun are scattered by the Earth’s atmosphere.

During totality, the moon is passing through the umbra at a whopping one kilometer per second. That’s 2,300 mph! And still, totality of the eclipse can last up to 107 minutes.

Will Wyoming Stargazing Have a Program Anywhere?

Yes, we’ll be set up with our telescopes on the lawn next to the Center for the Arts at 8pm on September 27th.

Is the World Really Going to End?

Some of you may have noticed that thanks to the unique nature of the astronomical event, some alarmist groups (possibly desperate for attention) are claiming that this will mark the end of the world. Despite their best claims and whatever arguments they have managed to make viral on social media, the world is, in fact, quite safe from any destruction from this event.

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