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What is a Blood Moon? Meaning of a lunar eclipse explained and what time the November 2022 full moon peaks

The i 07/11/2022 David Hughes
The moon often takes on a reddish hue during a total lunar eclipse (Photo: AP) © Provided by The i The moon often takes on a reddish hue during a total lunar eclipse (Photo: AP)

The November 2022 full moon will coincide with a total lunar eclipse, creating a phenomenon known as a “Blood Moon”.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is positioned precisely between the Sun and the Moon so that all three are in a straight line.

This month’s full moon falls on Tuesday 8 November, reaching its peak at 11.02am in the UK, according to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

Unfortunately, this means that the lunar eclipse will not be visible from the UK. Stargazers will be able to see it from across North and Central America, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, as well in Ecuador, Colombia, western portions of Venezuela and Peru.

The eclipse will start at 7.02am UK time on Tuesday,  according to Nasa, and reach totality between 9.17am and 10.42am – here’s everything you need to know about the “Blood Moon”.

Why is lunar eclipse known as a Blood Moon?

When the Earth’s shadow falls upon the surface of the Moon it can sometimes dim it or even turn it red, which is why a total lunar eclipse is also sometimes referred to as a “Blood Moon”.

This red appearance comes from the Moon passing through the Earth’s umbral shadow, as the only light hitting it has passed through the planet’s atmosphere.

While the Blood Moon describes a real phenomenon, the phrase itself took off in 2014 for religious reasons – the Blood Moon Prophecy.

The striking term came from series of prophecies in the Bible promoted by two Christian preachers, John Hagee and Mark Biltz.

Their belief was that the end of the world was being signalled by four lunar eclipses – beginning in April 2014.

A book about it, Four Blood Moons, reached Amazon’s top 150 in the same month, and mainstream outlets including The Washington Post reported on the existence of the prophecy, drawing the name to a wider audience.

What is a lunar eclipse?

There are three types of lunar eclipse, with the Natural History Museum explaining: “To understand the difference between them, we first need to understand how Earth’s shadow works.

“As our planet blocks out the sun’s light, it actually casts two different shadows. One is a larger shadow that extends away from Earth at an angle, known as the penumbra. Directly behind Earth, however, is a darker and narrower shadow, called the umbra.”

Unlike a solar eclipse, all types of lunar eclipse are safe to view with the naked eye. The Moon is reflecting sunlight, not producing it, so it doesn’t get any brighter than a full moon would usually be.

Here’s what each of the different lunar eclipses refers to:

Penumbral eclipse

This is when the Moon travels through the earth’s penumbra (shadow). The Moon dims slightly so it can often go unnoticed.

Partial lunar eclipse

This is when there is an imperfect alignment of the Sun, Earth and Moon and results in the Moon passing through only part of the Earth’s full “umbral” shadow.

Umbral is derived from the Latin umbra, meaning “shadow”.

Total eclipse

During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon turns a deep red because it is illuminated by light that has been filtered through and refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere.

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