For those who missed it, the blood moon that occurred in the wee hours of the morning was a rare and beautiful sight — and one that won’t come again until 2025.
Though the world will have to wait three years for the next spectacle, people can get a glimpse of the recent blood moon from pictures and videos posted online. Different platforms broadcasted the allure of the recent lunar eclipse and even showed time lapses of the event.
Lasting for almost six hours, the blood moon occurred on Tuesday, Nov. 8 — the night before the election. It earned the name “Beaver Moon” since November is the time of year when beavers begin hibernating. According to Almanac, the blood moon has alternative names such as the digging moon, which highlights how different animals prepare for winter, and the frost moon, which represents the season’s change in weather.
In addition to the stories behind its name, the blood moon can also have different spiritual meanings. Many spiritual guides offer advice to their followers about what to do during a lunar eclipse. Historically, a total lunar eclipse represents death — or at least that something is wrong — due to its strange color. Today, however, according to astrologer Chelsea Jackson, the blood moon can represent comfort, safety and pleasure.
The Nov. 8 Blood Moon
On this special Tuesday, a red moon with pinkish-purple, brown and yellow hues shone brightly in the night sky. Different parts of the world could view the lunar eclipse, including all of North America and most of South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. In the United States, the moon could be seen across the entire country. Space admirers viewed the moon from Los Angeles, New York City, Washington, D.C. and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA later shared images of the event from different locations.
A blood moon occurs when the moon is in a total lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse, which can only happen during a full moon, takes place when the Earth is positioned between the moon and the sun, blocking any direct sunlight and creating a blood moon. NASA stated that the red color is the result of minimum sunlight moving through the Earth’s atmosphere. The more dust and clouds in the atmosphere, the redder the moon becomes.
Viewers who stayed up during the five hours of the Nov. 8 event likely saw the moon change colors. Slowly but surely, the moon gradually changed from a white full moon to a red one and then back to its normal color.
Scientists measure the moon’s changes in phases. During the penumbra phase, the moon appears to be just a full moon. When the eclipse reaches the umbra phase, the moon is blocked by the Earth and turns red. Eventually, the moon goes back into the penumbra phase, marking the end of the eclipse.
Time and Date is a great resource for those who wish to track the phases of different solar and lunar eclipses. For the most recent lunar eclipse, the website indicates when the blood moon was in your area. You can track the eclipse and see detailed maps about it as well. The website also has a countdown for the next solar eclipse (though it won’t be a blood moon), which is expected to occur in 155 days.
Solar and Lunar Eclipses
With a solar eclipse comes a lunar eclipse; they’re always paired together. A solar eclipse usually occurs first, but it typically falls within a two-week period before or after a lunar eclipse. When the moon travels between the earth and the sun and thereby blocks the sun, we get a solar eclipse. This event differs from a lunar eclipse, which occurs when the Earth’s shadow blocks the moon.
Eclipses manifest in five primary ways: a total lunar eclipse, a partial lunar eclipse, a total solar eclipse, a partial solar eclipse and an annular solar eclipse.
The blood moon that occurred last Tuesday was a total lunar eclipse. A partial lunar eclipse, on the other hand, takes place when only a part of the moon is blocked by the Earth. These eclipses look like something took a bite out of the moon. The most recent partial lunar eclipse occurred in November 2021, and the next one will take place in October 2023.
A total solar eclipse is one of the more commonly known eclipses. It occurs during the day, and the moon completely blocks out the sun, which effectively makes the world go dark. According to Almanac, the last total solar eclipse (which was seen by many around the world) occurred in the summer of 2017. The second-most recent solar eclipse occurred in 1979 and could only be seen in a few places. The next one, which the majority of the world should be able to see, is expected to occur in April 2024. Though they often go unnoticed, total solar eclipses usually take place every 18 months.
As mentioned, when there’s a lunar eclipse, there’s usually a preceding solar eclipse. Accompanying the blood moon of Nov. 8 was the partial solar eclipse of Oct. 25. Though the solar eclipse wasn’t visible in North America, the event could be seen in other places around the world, including Europe and certain parts of Asia. Like a partial lunar eclipse, a partial solar eclipse looks like someone took a bite out of the sun; the sun transforms into a pretty crescent shape that’s missing a piece due to the blockage from the moon. The next partial solar eclipse will occur in March 2025.
The final type of eclipse, an annular solar eclipse, occurs when the moon blocks the center of the sun. Time and Date describe the event as a “ring of fire,” as the moon covers the center of the sun, leaving only a circled outline of the sun visible. The last annular solar eclipse was in 2019, and the next one will be in October 2023.
The moon is a beautiful part of the universe. It’s extremely diverse and provides balance and beauty to the Earth. Like the sun does during the day, the moon shines bright at night and can be used as a guide. Its shifting phases are fascinating, and incomparable to any other natural phenomenon. The blood moon is only one of the many examples of the magnificence that can be found in our solar system. The rare eclipse can also serve as a reminder that the world is so much bigger than we can even imagine; we should try not to stress about the small things when we’re living in a universe that is so grand.