The first of four lunar eclipses took place on Monday, only visible to 1/6th of the planet. Lucky surfers in North and South America got to witness the auspicious “Blood Moon,” as a gloomy shadow and copper tone kicked off the cosmic spectacle.
Malibu’s First Point hosted surfers out in the lineup through the wee hours of the morning, as the eclipse began just after midnight in California. The full moon’s bright light contrasted heavily with the dark shadow, as the star Spica (the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo) shined a deep, dark blue. Mars was also very visible in the dark sky.
Why the “blood” connotation and copper toning of the moon during an eclipse? According to LiveScience, the moon may turn red as it reflects sunrises and sunsets happening around the world:
“The moon’s reddish tint comes from the indirect rays of light being filtered through our atmosphere the same visual effect that makes sunsets that striking coral color. Our atmosphere acts like a filter, removing most of the blue light, while leaving the red and orange light to grace the moon’s surface.
“While the moon is in shadow, some light from the sun shines through Earth’s atmosphere. Red light (unlike other colors that are blocked and scattered) is better able to penetrate the atmosphere, which creates this “bloody” effect.”
So how lucky were we to surf under a red moon? If you missed it, you will have another opportunity soon. The second of four lunar eclipses occurs on October 8th, followed by a third on April 4th and fourth on September 28th, 2015.
“During the 300-year interval from 1600 to 1990, for instance, there were no tetrads at all,” reported LiveScience. Yet, in the 21st century, we have nine sets of tetrads (four back-to-back lunar eclipses).
Mark your calendars for a night surf during the next lunar eclipse… You will not be disappointed. Science is freakin’ awesome.