The moon will turn red as soon as its last sliver is consumed by Earth in a total eclipse. In an astronomical rarity, there will be a total of four lunar eclipses, one every six months, this year and next.

Blood Moon in the Red on Tax Day for First of Four Total Lunar Eclipses


The Internal Revenue Service may be preparing to bleed some of us on Tax Day, but that’s no match for what Earth has in store for its little sibling. At about 2 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday April 15, the moon will cruise through Earth’s shadow, which will turn it blood red.

The moon will be full when it does this, forming a total lunar eclipse in the depths of the velvet night. The reason for the red lies in tricks played by Earth’s atmosphere, as explains.

First, Earth’s shadow “will appear dark, like a bite taken out of a cookie, until the shadow completely covers the moon,” reports. But then, “when the moon is submerged in Earth’s shadow, there is circular ring around Earth—the ring of our atmosphere—through which the sun’s rays pass.”

For various reasons, all but the red light gets filtered out of the spectrum, and there you have it. Instead of a black shadow rendering the moon invisible, “Thanks to Earth’s atmosphere, what actually happens is much more subtle and beautiful,” says.

The spectacular sight will be visible to all of Turtle Island, for more than an hour. Moreover, this is just the first of four total lunar eclipses, NASA says. There will be another later this year, on October 8, then another next April 4, 2015, followed by the fourth, on September 28, 2015. This is the first total lunar eclipse since 2011.

RELATED: Big Fat Red Lunar Eclipse a Treat for West Coast Early Risers

"The most unique thing about the 2014–2015 tetrad is that all of them are visible for all or parts of the USA," said eclipse expert Fred Espenak in a statement from NASA. Below, the tetrad is explained.

This may be a cause for concern among some Indigenous Peoples, since eclipses are traditionally seen as portents of evil in many cultures. In at least one instance, the “blood moon” is associated with actual bloodshed. In 1504, Christopher Columbus notoriously consulted an almanac he had handy in order to predict a lunar eclipse and subdue a local Native population on the island of what is today known as Jamaica.

RELATED: Avert Your Eyes: Eclipse Viewing Taboo in Navajo and Other Cultures


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