Blood Moon in the Red on Tax Day for First of Four Total Lunar Eclipses
The Native peoples of Jamaica had grown tired of supporting Columbus’s stranded party—his vessels had been devoured by shipworm and were no longer seaworthy—and of being taken advantage of, then robbed and even murdered, when the crew mutinied. Fed up, they threatened to stop providing the Europeans with food and other provisions. Columbus took advantage of his knowledge of an impending total lunar eclipse and warned the local people that “his Christian god was angry with his people for no longer supplying Columbus and his men with food,” Space.com recounts. “Therefore, he was about to provide a clear sign of his displeasure: Three nights hence, he would all but obliterate the rising full moon, making it appear ‘inflamed with wrath,’ which would signify the evils that would soon be inflicted upon all of them.”
Sure enough, three days later the moon turned deep red just after sunset, almost before it had time to rise. Columbus milked the moment, even pretending that he was the one who was allowing the moon back after the local people agreed to accede to his demands.
“They then kept Columbus and his men well supplied and well fed until a relief caravel from Hispaniola finally arrived on June 29, 1504,” Space.com said, noting that Columbus did not depart for Spain until November 7 of that year.
In truth though, one never knows what exact color a lunar eclipse will take, according to National Geographic.
“The moon's color during totality can vary considerably depending on the amount of dust in the Earth's atmosphere at the time,” National Geographic tells us. “Active volcanoes spewing tons of ash into the upper atmosphere, for instance, can trigger blood-red eclipses. No one can predict exactly what color we'll see before each eclipse.”
The redness of the moon is echoed in that of Mars, which makes its closest approach to Mother Earth at about the same time. The Red Planet and its ruddy hues will not be far from the moon.
Before the moon makes it to Earth’s actual shadow, it will dim a little as it passes through the penumbral shadow of the earth. But that will be faint compared to the real thing.
“The total part of the April 14-15 eclipse lasts nearly 1.3 hours,” Earthsky.org tells us. “A partial umbral eclipse precedes totality by over an hour, and follows totality by over an hour, so the moon takes a little more than 3.5 hours to completely sweep through the Earth’s dark shadow on the night of April 14-15. North and South America, plus islands of the Pacific (such as Hawaii) are in the best position worldwide to watch the total eclipse of the moon on the night of April 14-15.”
Those who are blocked by time constraints or clouds can catch the phenomenon online at the Slooh Space Camera.
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