'Blood moon' a treat for skywatchers

CINCINNATI – A special treat occurred for most of North America Monday night into Tuesday when the moon turned to blood – well, sort of.

A total lunar eclipse, also known as a “blood moon,” began just after midnight, and was seen across almost the entire continental United States, most of Canada, Central America and parts of South America.

But due to a bout of bad weather in the Tri-State Monday and Tuesday, skywatchers in the region probably missed this celestial event.

Slooh, an online leader in live, celestial event programming powered by men, women and children in 80 countries, streamed the "blood moon" as it happened.

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

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.

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

USAtoday.com reports the "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."

This "blood moon" is completely safe to view with the naked eye.

On April 15 at 1:58 a.m., the moon began to move into Earth's shadow. The total eclipse began just over an hour later at 3:07 a.m. and lasted 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 missed it, there is another one later this year on October 8. 

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