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lunar

If you’re awake in the wee hours of Tuesday, April 15, do yourself a favor: look up at the sky between 2:08am to 3:23am.

You will see a spectacular phenomenon that occurs when the earth passes smack-dab between the sun and moon: a total lunar eclipse. If we are especially lucky, we’ll get to see the moon turn a deep, dark red color. When the moon turns red during a lunar eclipse, it is ominously called a “blood moon”.

As Earth passes between the sun and moon, it will cast its shadow onto the surface of the moon. With such a large obstacle in the way, the sun’s light won’t reach the moon directly. The light will bend in the atmosphere, and bounce into Earth’s shadow as it crosses the face of moon. The light that hits the moon will be coming from thousands of sunsets and sunrises around the earth. And like the sunrises we see on earth, the light projected onto the moon will have deep, rusty-red hue.

Stargazers across the Western Hemisphere will have a front row seat to this event. What is even better is that Tuesday’s lunar eclipse is the first in a series of four total lunar eclipses that will be visible from the US during the next two years. When four lunar eclipses occur one after another over a relatively short period of time, it’s called a tetrad.

So if you miss this one you’ll have three more chances: October 2014, then again in April and September of 2015.

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