Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015
Digital Life

Sky-watchers see "blood moon" in total lunar eclipse

Published on Apr 15, 2014 8:15 PM

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (REUTERS) - Parts of the world saw a rare celestial event on Tuesday when the Earth's shadow fell across the moon, turning it orange.

The lunar eclipse unfolded over three hours beginning at about 2am EDT, when the moon began moving into Earth's shadow. A little more than an hour later, the moon could be seen eclipsed and bathed in an orange, red or brown glow.

Depending on local weather conditions, the eclipse was visible across a swath of the United States.

Viewers from Florida to California and beyond went to viewing parties and social media and other websites to gawk and share photos of the so-called "blood moon".

Enjoy 2 weeks of unlimited digital access to The Straits Times. Get your free access now!

Background story

Lunar and solar eclipses: Quick facts

By Lyn Chan

The blood moon that crossed the earth’s shadow in a total lunar eclipse left viewers in North and South America on Monday night or Tuesday night, depending on where they were, breathless in its magnificence.

And later this month, there will be an annular solar eclipse.

Both are eclipses but there are noticeable differences:

Lunar eclipse (LE) and solar eclipse (SE): What are the differences?


LE: Takes place when the earth passes between the moon and sun, and the earth’s shadow is cast over the moon’s surface either partially or full.

SE: Occurs when the moon passes between the earth and sun, and the moon partially or fully blocks the sun.


LE: Happens only at night

SE: Occurs during the day.


LE: Takes place only during a full moon, when the sun, earth and moon are lying on the same plane of orbit and when the moon passes through the earth's shadow.

SE: Only occurs during the new moon.


LE: Safe to look at without protective eyewear.

SE: Watch with the naked eye at your own peril.


LE: Viewable from anywhere in the world, as long as it is on the night side of the earth, because the earth’s shadow is so huge,

SE: Visible only in a relatively small part of the earth as the moon’s shadow is miniscule.

Lunar eclipses are visible over the entire hemisphere, Sterling said, because the Earth's shadow is so large. A total solar eclipse is visible only in a small slice of the Earth because's the moon's shadow is so small.


LE: A total lunar eclipse can last as long as up to a few hours.

SE: A total solar eclipse lasts for only a few minutes, regardless of geographical location.

Blue moon, black moon, super moon...take your pick

Besides the blood moon, here are other types of moons:

Black moon

Various definitions, from the lack of a full or new moon in a calendar month – which can only happen in February – to a second new month in a calendar month. For example, there was a new moon on both Jan 1, 2014, and Jan 30, 2014, so the Jan 30 new moon was considered a Black Moon. Same for March 2014, where the second new moon on March 30 was called a Black Moon (the first new moon was on March 1).

Blue moon

The second full moon in any given month, or the third of four full moons in a season. As with the phrase “once in a blue moon”, blue moon signifies rarity, not the colour of the moon.

Wet moon

Takes place when the pointy ends of the moon are away from the horizon, facing upwards instead. Think of a bowl or a smile – hence also the name Cheshire moon, after the cat with its distinctively mischievous grin in the book, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.

Super Moon

Astrologer Richard Nolle came up with the term more than 30 years ago: “… a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90 per cent of) its closest approach to earth in a given orbit.” The effect makes the moon appear 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than normal. This year, there will be a total of five supermoons: two January new moons and full moons of July, August and September.

Harvest moon

The full moon closest to the autumn equinox, typically in September but sometimes in October. It is also known as the Corn moon. The moons period of darkness between sunset and moonrise is shorter than normal for several days following the arrival of the full moon. In traditional times, the extra daylight enabled European farmers more time to harvest their crops.

Hunter's moon

The full moon after the Harvest moon. The Hunter's moon came about as animals are more easily spotted and hunted during this time.