“I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The Sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair. The whole Moon turned blood red.”
Although April 15 marks the beginning of an interesting occurrence, the phenomenon isn't all that rare or supernatural.
The tetrad, or series of four lunar eclipses spanning back-to-back years, also occurred in 2003 and 2004. In other words, we have lived through one already. But this doesn't keep the end-of-the-world prophecies away by any means.
Because the first and third lunar eclipses in this tetrad will coincide with Passover and the second and fourth will coincide during the feast of Tabernacles, some religious leaders believe this to be significant.
John Hagee, senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, published a book in 2013 called "Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change." He tells his megachurch congregation of more than 20,000 that the rarity of a tetrad is strong evidence a major change of course in history will occur.
The phrase "blood moon," though not an astronomical term, is used to describe the red or orange appearance of the moon when the sun's rays reflect off of the Earth's atmosphere during a lunar eclipse. The depth of the color can be affected by temperature, humidity, and the amount of dust particles in the atmosphere.
However, despite all the attention Hagee and his book have gotten, Christian Today reports that only a "small group of Christians" see the tetrad as significant.
In his article "The Science Behind the 'Blood Moon Tetrad' and Why Lunar Eclipses Don’t Mean the End of the World," author David Dickinson talks about how humans love to see patterns in things, even when none exist.
"And yes, earthquakes, wars, disease, relationship breakups and lost car keys are on tap to occur in 2014 and 2015… just like during any other year," he writes. "Lunar eclipses marked the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the World Series victory of the Red Sox in 2004, but they’re far from rare ... This is simply a case of the gambler’s fallacy, counting the hits at the cost of the misses.
"We could just as easily make a case that the upcoming eclipse tetrad of April 15th, October 8th, April 4th and September 28th marks US Tax Day, Croatian Independence Day, The Feast of Benedict of the Moor & — Michael Scott take note — International World Rabies Day… perhaps the final 2015 eclipse should be known as a 'Rabies Moon?'"
Whatever you choose to call it, you can view it next week on April 15 starting at 3:07 a.m. EST. Full coverage can be seen until approximately 3:36 a.m. EST and the entire eclipse will last just over an hour. As with any lunar eclipse, the best viewing is away from city lights and, although telescopes do give a more detailed view, the phenomenon can be seen with the naked eye.
Viewers will also be able to clearly see Mars, which will appear bright red on the right side of the moon, and Spica, a star expected to shine brightly during the eclipse.
Image via YouTube