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Blood Moon: what it is, when and where to see it

Blood Moon: what it is, when and where to see it


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Blood Moon is not the title of a new TV series nor the name of a book or a musical band, it is a term that indicates the Moon that shows. The satellite Moon which, as you know, is occasionally the protagonist of eclipses and not all not as spectacular as the one we are preparing to see now. The appointment is between 20 and 21 January, very little is missing, and even those who always arrive late will not miss the moon show because it lasts a long time, I assure you. It is the longest lunar eclipse of the century and the Moon will paint our night red. Are you ready to admire it?

Blood Moon: phases

Let's see what happens in order to enjoy the red night sky with full knowledge of the causes and not as if it were the special effect of a film. Maybe they couldn't have done better in Hollyhood either. On January 20, the orbit of the Moon will completely cross the Earth's shadow zone due to thealignment with the Earth. What will we see?

Initially there will be only partial dimming like what we are used to seeing in partial moon eclipses, with a penumbra zone, then in the night, "Shut up", our satellite will enter the shadow area and the total eclipse will begin. At this moment the blackout is total because the alignment is almost perfect.

Those who live overseas will be able to admire the show as early as January 20, but we, from Italy, like all the other inhabitants of the European continent, have to wait for midnight to strike. This obviously also applies to those who are in Africa. So on January 21, early in the night, be ready to marvel at the moon. In Italy awake bet around 3 to arrive awake and lucid to look at the sky at 03:36 and resist until 08:48, also considering the phases of entry and exit from the twilight.

If we think we cannot do it, it is better to aim to attend only the “highlight” phase which will last about 1 hour and 2 minutes, from 05:41 to 06:43, with a maximum expected at 06:12. The longest possible lunar eclipse is 1 hour and 47 minutes. The longest of the last century occurred on July 16, 2000, lasting 1 hour and 46.4 minutes.

Blood Moon: meaning

When we talk about Blood Moon, we are always and however describing what in the jargon is called a supermoon. It is in fact a full or new moon that appears closer than usual and is not an optical illusion: it is located at the minimum distance from the Earth, the perigee, at about 363,000km from our planet.

On average a supermoon usually appears larger than 14% but also much brighter than normal, even 30% when compared with the usual moon we see in the sky every night. Written like this, it seems like child's play to recognize a supermoon from an everyday moon at a glance, but it is not at all.

Obviously, such a phenomenon has generated many legends and many are the beliefs related to it. For example, just think that the full moon of January has also been renamed “Moon of the wolf"And, less frequently, it can also be heard called"Old moon ", it was indigenous American tribes who renamed it this way because the wolves seeing it howled while they were looking for food in the middle of winter.

Blood Moon: explanation

When it comes to Blood Moon it seems to deal with beliefs and stories but it is not at all like that. Our planet really takes on unique appearances during this phenomenon and this is not a rumor. Seeing is believing.

The red, blood-red shades that the moon shows are true and are also scientifically explained. This color is an effect of the dispersion and refraction of sunlight through our atmosphere when the moon passes through the shadow of the Earth during a total lunar eclipse, a phenomenon not as rare as one might believe. Doing the math well, astronomical calendar in hand, it can be seen that every year between 2 and 5 lunar eclipses can occur.

Over the years, not always having clear the origin of the phenomenon, there have been some misunderstandings regarding the description and definition of the blood moon we are about to admire and the scientific explanation it hides. It has been known for centuries that it exists and has been observed, admired or frightened, and there are many myths and legends that describe its potential effects. After all, it is also impossible not to be fascinated by phenomena of this type.

To the previous entries on the Blood Moon, in recent years another has been added thanks to the contribution of two Christian pastors who speak of the blood moon but do not refer to the shade of the moon but to the eclipse of 4 consecutive full moons. In a 2013 book (Four Blood Moons), they wrote of a prophecy that heralds the end of all time and that coincides with this tetrad of astronomical events.

Superluna: explanation

Even the term supermoon has its origins to tell and, as you can imagine, they are not particularly related to science. The astrologer Richard Nollelle, already about 40 years ago, he began to argue that a moon at a super close distance, like our supermoon, could influence the climate, and thus proposed his particular description.

If you look well, however, the moon is only 2% closer at that special moment, so you don't have to imagine seeing a really super, really giant moon appear. As we have seen, it may also be difficult to distinguish it from the traditional, full moon.

However, it remains more fascinating, and even more effective in terms of marketing, to talk about "Supermoon of blood " instead of "total lunar eclipse combined with a full moon at perigee". It is a great name to remind everyone, in a simple way, that on the night between 20 and 21 January something exceptional will appear in the sky and that the next total lunar eclipse with its red glow will only happen at May 2021.

Blood Moon and the Soros cycle

Who knows a little bit of astronomy since each lunar eclipse is assigned a Saros cycle, each lasts 18 years. These cycles are related to the recurring positions of the sun, earth and moon over that period of time. The incoming eclipse is part of the 129 series, a series of 71 eclipses that also includes that total lunar of July 16, 2000, the longest of the twentieth century.

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