"Blood moon," St. George, Utah, April 15, 2014 | Photo by John Teas, St. George News
ST. GEORGE – Clear skies provided the perfect backdrop for stargazers to marvel at a rare “Blood Moon” lunar eclipse last night. Of all astronomical phenomena, lunar eclipses are special because one can enjoy them easily with the naked eye.
A lunar eclipse is very predictable; there is no waiting and wondering if it will happen. Around 10:20 p.m. Monday, subtle changes began to occur on the left side of the moon’s brightness, known as penumbra. At 11 p.m., the earth’s shadow, or umbra, began to crawl across the surface of the moon.
By 1 a.m. Tuesday, the moon was in full shadow and a total lunar eclipse was taking place.
The “Blood Moon” is unique because sunlight passes through the earth’s atmosphere and casts a faint glow on the moon. That light is filtered, and the red wavelengths are what we see reflected back at us.
Worldwide, much of the viewing area was shrouded in clouds, but that was not the case in Southern Utah. However, if you missed last night’s show, you will have another opportunity in October, when the Hunter’s Moon will run red with another total eclipse.
“Blood Moon” eclipses run in cycles, often with centuries between them. We will be treated to two more in the spring and fall of 2015. Within the astronomical time clock, this is a wonderful time to keep looking up.
St. George News reporter Alexa Verdugo Morgan contributed to this story.
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