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Montana a Prime Location to View Upcoming Full Lunar Eclipse

Total Lunar Eclipse
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

A full lunar eclipse is set to occur early Tuesday morning (late Monday night), April 15. University of Montana Astronomy Professor Dan Reisenfeld says that Montanans are at a great longitude to view the event.

“For this particular eclipse, the moon will be pretty much straight overhead in Montana during the center of the eclipse, whereas, if you were on the east coast it would be close to moon-set at the time of totality,” Reisenfeld said. “So, for this particular eclipse, we’re in a great spot, you just have to look up.”

This total lunar eclipse is the first of four that will occur between now and September 2015. A series of four full lunar eclipses is called a tetrad and is a pretty rare event.

“There was a period of time a couple hundred years ago where there were hardly any tetrads and this century there are quite a number of them,” Reisenfeld said. “It has to do with the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit and the eccentricity of the moon’s orbit and just the way that those two phase together as the earth goes around the sun and the moon goes around the earth. It’s a very complicated dynamic, but it’s also very predictable.”

The moon won’t turn black, but will get copper red during the event. Some say this is what the Bible refers to as a “blood moon” in the books of Joel and Revelation and could be a portent for major change.

“If you were standing on the moon looking back at the earth, you would see all of the sun rises and sunsets of the world at once, as a ring of redness around the edges of the earth,”Reisenfeld said. “All of that red light from all of those sunrises and sunsets is being cast on the moon, because that’s the only light available to illuminate the moon. There’s nothing apocalyptic about it, it’s a very easily explainable natural phenomena.”

The first eclipse will begin around 12:30 Tuesday night and be full by 1:00 a.m. The next eclipse will occur in October 2014, followed by an eclipse in April 2015 and culminating with the final part of the tetrad in September 2015.

Eclipse discussion with Dan Reisenfeld:

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