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'Blood Moon' Eclipse Visible Wednesday Morning

Photo via Flickr//David Yu

Residents along the Gulf Coast will join much of the rest of North America early Wednesday, in viewing another “blood moon.” 

The event is the second in a sequence of four blood moons called a tetrad, which occur in six-month intervals. The first blood moon was last April 15. The last two will happen in 2015, on April 4 and September 28. The color of a "Blood Moon" comes from the refraction of the sun’s light through Earth’s atmosphere.

“The colors we associate with sunrise and sunset – reds and oranges – those longer wavelengths that get through,” says Wayne Wooten, an astronomer at Pensacola State College. “That’s the light that’s been bent around the rim of the earth. And it’s going to the red that paints the moon bloody.”

At 5:25 a.m. Central time Wednesday the moon will pass into Earth’s shadow, making it appear red. The moment of greatest eclipse will occur at 5:54, and the entire eclipse will last about 59 minutes – ending at 6:53. Anyone wishing to view Wednesday’s blood moon through a telescope can do so outside of PSC’s planetarium at 4 a.m.

Owing to its position in its orbit, the Moon will be just over five percent larger than the blood moon last April.

Some throughout time have associated Blood moons as symbolic of myriad things – few of them good. Some believe them to be the color of war, while others thought a red moon was a sign of end times. Wooten says a more modern-day application in 2004 involved a playing field, rather than a battlefield.

“For Boston, it was a wonderful event,” Wooten said. “When the Red Sox finally won the World Series (for the first time since 1918) they did so in St. Louis under the light of the first total lunar eclipse ever to shine down on a World Series game. So for Boston fans, it was very good news, indeed.”

PSC’s Wayne Wooten adds this fun fact: while we’re watching a lunar eclipse from the Earth, if someone were on the moon at the same time, they would be watching a solar eclipse – a partial one as mentioned will be seen here on October 23.

None of Wednesday’s lunar eclipse will be visible from Europe, Africa or the Middle East, and Wooten says Americans and Canadians need to enjoy this tetrad -- which likely won’t be repeated in our lifetimes.