Look to the skies, everyone.
NASA announced yesterday that a series of four sequential total lunar eclipses will take place soon. The event is called a tetrad of eclipses, and sometimes goes hundreds of years without occurring. The eclipses will happen at six month intervals starting in April.
The first eclipse will take place on April 15 and will be followed by another on October 8. Six months later, we’ll see one on April 4, 2015 followed by the fourth and final total eclipse on September 28, 2015.
Tetrads occur at varying frequencies throughout time. In the 21st century, for example, nine tetrads will take place. But, as NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak notes, we sometimes go hundreds of years on earth without seeing a tetrad.
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“During the three hundred year interval from 1600 to 1900, for instance, there were no tetrads at all,” he says.
What makes this upcoming tetrad even more special is that all four eclipses will be clearly visible from North America.
"The most unique thing about the 2014-2015 tetrad is that all of them are visible for all or parts of the USA," Espenak said in a NASA statement.
A lunar eclipse of some form happens roughly twice a year. But, as the NASA statement notes, most of these eclipses are not total eclipses. They are typically penumbral or partial eclipses, in which just parts of the moon are shadowed.
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A total eclipse, on the other hand, occurs when the entire moon passes through the earth’s amber-colored umbra shadow. When this happens, the amber shadow reflects off the face of the moon, producing a beautiful deep red moon as seen from earth. These are the eclipses worth staying up at night to see, so mark your calendars.
Of course, someone has to respond to a rare astronomical event with a doomsday-esque prediction. Pastor John Hagee has you covered here.
Hagee wrote a book called Four Blood Moons – Something is About to Change in which he notes that the upcoming tetrad aligns on the biblical calendar with Passover and the Feast of the Tabernacle. Each time this has happened in the past, Hagee notes, something significant has happened to the Jewish people. It happened in 1967-1968 when Israel won the six day battle for Jerusalem. It happened in 1948-1949 when Israel became a nation following WWII. And it happened during the Spanish Inquisition when the Jewish people were kicked out of Spain. So yeah, make of that what you will.
For more information on the upcoming eclipse tetrad, check out this NASA video: