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The Amazing Phenomenon of Blood Moons

by Caleb Rogart

A few weeks ago, you may have had the fortune to have seen the moon, but not just any regular moon, but a full red one. If one saw the moon that night, most would question why it is red and might be afraid that the end of all things were upon them. However, they would be wrong, as the moon becomes red not because the world is ending, but rather because it marks the start of a total lunar eclipse.

A total lunar eclipse causes the moon to turn red as it passes through the umbra, or the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow, after the Earth blocks the sun from the moon’s view. As the moon passes through the umbra, it reflects a reddish hue. This results from blue and green light getting scattered by dust particles in the atmosphere, while orange and red colors remain much more visible than their counterparts. The difference between the light colors stems from the fact that blue and green light have a much smaller wavelength compared to the orange and red colors, and longer wavelengths travel much farther as they come across less interference from Earth’s atmosphere. To put it simply, sunlight that shines directly onto Earth passes through the atmosphere and is in turn projected onto the moon, which makes it appear red.

Some may remember seeing a solar eclipse, another fascinating phenomenon in which the moon completely or partly blocks the sun from Earth’s view, which results in a few minutes of all but the sun’s disk from being visible. Viewing straight into this, however, is still dangerous, as the little remaining light from the sun’s disk is extremely strong and if looked upon without the proper protection, can result in “eclipse blindness,” where strong sun rays can burn the retina. This is quite frightening, but fortunately, blood moons, or lunar eclipses, are in no way dangerous. Blood moons can be visible for much longer than a few minutes, and hold no danger to anyone who looks upon it. As such, blood moons are not only incredible to see and study, but also entirely safe, making them perhaps the best eclipse of them all.


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