Tax Day Surprise: Full Lunar Eclipse Series Begins | KERA News

Tax Day Surprise: Full Lunar Eclipse Series Begins

Apr 11, 2014

Even if you don’t need to stay up late Monday night to finish taxes, you might want to. Starting after midnight there will be what’s called a “blood moon.” It’s a full lunar eclipse, and it’s the first of a rare series of eclipses over the next two years.

As earth’s shadow crosses in front of the moon late Monday night, we will begin to see a dull, red glow, similar to the color visible at sunset.

Mary Urquhart, a planetary scientist and associate professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, explains the colorful eclipse is the first of four, consecutive total lunar eclipses occurring at approximately six-month intervals.

While lunar eclipses occur roughly twice a year, only a fraction are total eclipses, and many are not visible from North America.

To catch a glimpse, Urquhart says start looking high in the night sky around 1:00 am central time.

“That’s when you’ll start to see the partial eclipse form,” she says, “It takes about an hour, a little bit more, and that moon will appear to vanish and then [you’ll see] that eerie red glow.”

According to NASA, during the 21st century there are 9 sets of tetrads — or four total lunar eclipses in a row — but this hasn’t always been the case.

“During the three hundred year interval from 1600,1900, for instance there were no tetrads at all,” says NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak.