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Dhaka Tribune

The 'blood moon' graces night skies

Update : 15 Apr 2014, 03:07 PM

Sky gazers caught a glimpse of the "blood moon" crossing the Earth's shadow on Tuesday in all its’ splendor.

The moon took on a red shade as it appeared in different phases between 2 and 4:30am.

In North and South America, the blood moon was most prominent and the observers pointed at the sight with binoculars, telescopes and mobile phones.

Depending on time zones, it started late Monday night or in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

In a total lunar eclipse, the full moon turns copper red as it passes into Earth's shadow. During the process, the moon's bright radiance dims, taking on a red shade because of shimmers of sunlight and sunsets seeping through the Earth's atmosphere.

Dust and sulfur dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere can affect the size of the shadow. There has to be a full moon for the total lunar eclipse to occur.

In Tuesday's spectacle, clouds hid the view from half of the United States, but cities such as Dallas, Denver and Los Angeles had optimal, front-row seats.

South and North American residents watched the entire spectacle, while observers in the Western Pacific caught the second half of the event. Central Asia and some parts of Europe and Africa did not get to see much.

Ed Krupp, director of the observatory, described it as a "typical copper red" total lunar eclipse.

Though rare, it's the sky "conspiring into a special event" that helped draw crowds, he said.

"The fact that there are four lunar successions coming this year and next is unusual," Krupp said.

"But it's not the kind of thing astronomers get worked up about. It doesn't really mean anything. It's a chance arrangement of gravity and the motions of objects in the solar system, primarily the Earth and moon," he added.

Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are quite safe to view with the naked eye.

The rare sight was virtually unheard of a few centuries ago.

"The most unique thing about the 2014-2015 tetrads is that all of them are visible for all or parts of the USA," he said.

North America will see a blood moon four times known as a tetrad, between now and the month of September of the next year.

In addition to Tuesday, it will make another appearance on October 8 of this year, and April 4 and September 28 of next year.

After the year 2015, it is said people will have to wait until 2032 to see the blood moon.

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