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Blood Moon keeps Trinis up

By Sasha Harrinanan Wednesday, April 16 2014

Trinbagonians were among the millions who either stayed up late or got up around 3.30 am yesterday to witness a “Blood Moon” — when the moon turns blood red as the Earth’s shadow fell across it during a total lunar eclipse.

One such person was Newsday photographer, Azlan Mohammed, who monitored the night sky from 9 pm on Monday, April 14 to 3.40 am on Tuesday, April 15.

What exactly is a Blood Moon?

According to senior contributing editor at Sky and Telescope magazine, Kelly Beatty, the Blood Moon effect is caused when the moon is in the deepest part of the Earth’s shadow.

“You would think that it would just disappear during an eclipse but if you were standing on the moon and looking back toward the Earth, you would see the sun hidden and this brilliant crimson ring around the Earth from the atmosphere. That red light is leaking through into the shadow, and it colors the moon a dim, murky red, sometimes copper-coloured.”

Beatty provided the explanation during an interview with Here and Now a radio programme broadcast on April 14 on a National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate in Boston.

Although we now have a scientific explanation for the occurrence of a “Blood Moon”, the effect was once clouded in superstition and mysticism.

Time magazine noted the ancient Mayan civilisation believed the Blood Moon was caused by a cosmic jaguar swallowing the moon while others regard it as a sign the “end times” are near. One pregnant woman told Newsday her mother advised her to “stay up and walk for the three to four hours of the total lunar eclipse, otherwise something bad could happen to the baby.”

Not much for superstitions, the woman said cloudy conditions overnight meant she couldn’t see the moon at all, so rather than “stress out”, she slept.

Three more consecutive and total lunar eclipses will take place at six-month intervals into 2015, so if you missed it this time, you have three more chances to see a Blood Moon for yourself.

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