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Another Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse Will Occur Saturday

Photo via Flickr// Doug Jones

Residents along the Gulf Coast will join much of the rest of North America, in viewing the first of two “blood moons” in 2015. This eclipse eerily falls on Easter and Passover weekend.

The event is also the third in a sequence of four blood moons called a tetrad, which occur in six-month intervals. Blood moons were seen last April and October. The two this year occur on Saturday and in September. But what makes it a “blood moon"?

“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.”

The action begins at 5:16  a.m. Central time on Saturday, when the edge of the moon first enters the amber core of Earth’s shadow. For the next hour and 45 minutes, Earth’s shadow will move across the lunar disk, ultimately covering the entire moon at 6:58  a.m. CST.

Owing to its position in its orbit, the Moon will be just over 5%  larger than the blood moon last April. But Wooten says the best blood moon is yet to come.

“September 27th, we will have a total lunar eclipse, which I call ‘the school kids’ eclipse,’” says Wooten. “Because it’s going to happen from about eight to ten o’clock in the evening. So if the kids beg their parents enough, they’ll probably get to stay up at least through most of totality before they have to go to bed.”

Some throughout time have considered blood moons symbolic of myriad things: few of them good. Some believe it 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.”

Oh, and the team color for both the Red Sox and Cardinals is – red.

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.

People west of the Mississippi River will have the best view, but at least a partial eclipse will be visible nationwide. Sunrise will interrupt the show on the East Coast. Parts of South America, India, China and Russia also will be able to see the eclipse, but it won't be visible in Greenland, Iceland, Europe, Africa or the Middle East.