Blood moon - NASA photo

Blood moon – NASA photo

Actually we will be lucky if we get to see the blood moon in the wee hours of April 15. The extended forecasts I have looked at say that clouds will obscure 80 to 90 percent of the heavens at that time. And right there, lurking behind that cloud cover will be a total lunar eclipse, showcasing the blood moon and setting in motion the beginning of a grand slam of blood moons, or a tetrad if you happen to be of an astronomical bent, or a signal of the “End Times” if you happen to be of a particular religious persuasion.

The term “blood moon” originally had little to do with the color of the moon. It was generally the first full moon after the harvest moon supposedly coincided with the opportunity for hunters to use the full moon to stockpile prey for the winter.

But add a lunar eclipse to a full moon and you will get a “blood” (reddish in color) moon every time. Lunar eclipses occur about twice a year so these blood moons – a full moon at the time of a lunar eclipse occurs, normally, about every six years.

A lunar eclipse is caused when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon causing the Earth’s shadow to fall on the moon. The sunlight reaching the moon just prior to and just after the eclipse is refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere causing the reddish tint – the same kind of scenario that creates those glorious red sunsets.

So we have these red moons occasionally, often around September and/or October when the harvest moon and/or the hunter’s moon tend to rise shortly after sunset and get the full benefit of the refracted sunlight or any time there is a lunar eclipse. But this year’s blood moon is the beginning of an astronomical event called a tetrad. A tetrad is when there are four total lunar eclipses in a row with no partial eclipses in between – a series of four “blood moons.” Each of these blood moons is separated from the other by six full moons.

Now if you’ve been around the block more than once you know that all this cool stuff happening in this precise order can give way to any/all kind(s) of predictions, foreshadowing and/or revelations. And you would be correct.

John Hagee, TVangelist and founder of the mega Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Tx. wrote a book last year entitled Four Blood Moons: Something is about to change, suggesting that this tetrad might be fulfilling biblical prophecy and signaling the imminent “End of Times.” Of course there have been tetrads before and I fully expect my grandkids and their grandkids to see tetrads – of course, I also predicted no one would document the existence of the ivory-billed woodpecker, so what do I know? But the fulfillment of this particular tetrad will continue on October 8, 2014, April 8, 2015 and September 28, 2015.

I’m bummed about the predicted cloud cover for this year’s tetrad installment – 80 to 90 percent – because there is an added fiery object to observe as the red planet will be hanging close to the moon at the time of the eclipse this year. However, if it is as cloudy as is currently predicted you can stream this eclipse right into the cozy confines of your home by visiting the Griffith Observatory of Los Angeles online. The eclipse is supposed to start a little after midnight eastern daylight time on the morning of April 15 and will last for a couple of hours.