‘Blood Moon’ Total Lunar Eclipse Could Be Bloodier Than Normal

‘Blood Moon’ Total Lunar Eclipse Could Be Bloodier Than Normal

In the early hours of Sunday to early Monday morning, the full moon will slide into Earth’s shadow, creating a total lunar eclipse that will dye the night sky satellite a reddish hue – this is what gives the phenomenon its nickname. of “blood moon”.

But this time scientists suspect that the celestial event will produce a moon that appears redder than usual, thanks to a powerful event that happened not too long ago here on Earth.

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In January, an undersea volcano erupted in the South Pacific near the uninhabited island of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai. The plume from the eruption was catapulted into the atmosphere, reaching up to 36 miles in altitude.

According to NASA, it is probably the largest plume captured in the age of satellites.

“The intensity of this event far exceeds that of any storm cloud I have ever studied,” said Kristopher Bedka, an atmospheric scientist at NASA Langley.

The resulting cloud of ash and gas spread across a section of the stratosphere larger in area than the state of Georgia.

During a lunar eclipse, much of the sunlight that illuminates the moon passes through the stratosphere, where it is scattered to produce the red “blood moon” effect. The extra material recently injected into this atmospheric layer can produce a bloodier-than-usual eclipse.

“Persistent exhaustion from the volcano can shadow the eclipse, turning it a darker red than usual,” writes astronomer Tony Phillips at Spaceweather.com.

Nearly a thousand years ago, on May 5, 1110, some medieval scribes reported a lunar eclipse that so darkened the moon’s disk that it was “completely extinct.” In 2020, researchers used data from ice cores and tree rings to link the intense eclipse to a volcanic eruption in Japan two years earlier.

It’s unclear whether the moon will be fully out on Sunday night and Monday morning, but no matter the added effect of volcanic activity, it will be a show worth venturing into the great outdoors.

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