The first of four total lunar eclipses in a series will soon put on a cosmic show that we'll have a front row seat to; that is if you're willing to stay up for it.
The lunar eclipse is a phenomenon where the sun, Earth and moon align and the Earth moves between the sun and the moon. When this happens, the Earth's shadow is cast on the moon.
The lunar eclipse is also known as the 'blood moon.' The moon takes on a reddish, copper color during the event thanks to the refraction of sunlight through the Earth's atmosphere. Refraction is also the reason why we have blue skies during the day and red sunsets in the evening.
The tetrad, meaning group of four, means that there are four lunar eclipses in a series that will happen over a relatively short period of time. The first of these is April 14th/15th. The other three will be in October 2014, April 2015 and September 2015.
Here in Jacksonville, the events should easily be seen but you'll have to stay up well past your bedtime to see it. The total lunar eclipse begins at 12:54 a.m. with total coverage at 3:46 a.m.
The tetrad has some Christians pontificating that the end of days are nigh. Pastor John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas points to the Book of Joel 2:31 that reads: "The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come."
Pastor Hagee claims that the tetrad often relates to terrible and great events pointing to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain expelling the Jews and Columbus discovering 'the infant nation' in 1492. Other examples include the Holocaust and the founding of Israel as a nation in 1948 as well as the Six Day War and the inclusion of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 1967. All these events coinciding with the tetrad.
Other astronomers aren't convinced. According to Earthsky.org, a total of eight tetrad events will take place between 2001 and 2100. To further prove the point, Earthsky says there will be 62 tetrad events from 1 A.D. to the year 2100.
Adding to the hysteria is the fact that the eclipse events coincide with two important Jewish holidays: Passover and Tabernacles. However, Earthsky.org points to the fact that the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar therefore inevitable that these events would fall on or near the feast of Passover eventually.
Whether this event is truly trumpeting the end of days or is a spectacle that signals nothing more than the aligning of space bodies is irrelevant. Neither of which can be stopped regardless. What makes this event really interesting in my opinion is witnessing an event that nobody in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries saw.
The icing on the cake? Mars will also be seen next to the moon during the first lunar eclipse and it too will appear even more red than normal.