Celestial event to bathe Tri-State in 'blood' next week

CINCINNATI – A special treat is in store for the Tri-State next week when the moon turns to blood – well, sort of.

A total lunar eclipse, also known as a “blood moon,” will begin just after midnight on April 15.

This celestial event will be seen across almost the entire continental United States, most of Canada, Central America and parts of South America.

A full lunar eclipse occurs when the entire moon is shaded by the Earth and appears as an eerie reddish color.

The red color is caused by refraction of sunlight by the Earth's atmosphere, according to EarthSky.org .

USAtoday.com reports next week's "blood moon" begins a rare sequence of four total lunar eclipses expected over the next two years. According to the report, some Christians see this series of "blood moons" as linked to a biblical prophecy of the "End Times."

The moon's orbit is tilted five degrees from Earth's orbit. For an eclipse to occur, the moon and Earth have to be on the same orbital plane with the sun, so the Earth's shadow can be cast onto the moon from the sun.

This is why lunar eclipses only happen one or two times a year instead of every month. 

Currently, some rain and clouds are in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday next week , which may hinder the Tri-State’s view of the “blood moon.” But that could change as weather models become more accurate within the next few days.

This "blood moon" is completely safe to view with the naked eye. If you want an even better glimpse and the weather permits, grab a pair of binoculars or a telescope.

On April 15 at 1:58 a.m., the moon will begin to move into Earth's shadow.  The total eclipse begins just over an hour later at 3:07 a.m. and lasts until 4:25 a.m.

The last time a total lunar eclipse was visible from the United States was on December 10, 2011.  If you miss it, there is another one later this year on October 8. 

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