Yesterday the world bore witness to the longest celestial event of the 21st century. The so-called blood moon, when the sun, Earth and moon lined up perfectly, casting Earth’s shadow on the moon was seen virtually everywhere in the world except in the UK where the weather hampered visibility.
In Kenya, it was said the best place to spot the eclipse was in Omenyangamong in Turkana where it would start at 20:14 HRS.
Yesterday’s lunar eclipse was even rarer than the usual blood moon phenomena because of its length – 103 minutes! Coincidentally, it also took place at the same time Mars was travelling closer to the Earth than it has ever done in the last 15 years.
While there was celebration around the world at the rare sighting, the blood moon has not always conjured such high spirits among people. In fact, for centuries, it has been perceived by some as a bad omen. Some ultra-Orthodox Jews consider lunar eclipses ominous. The Bible also contains end-time references of the moon turning into blood.
Among the Hindu, celestial bodies such as the Sun and Moon emit negative energy during an eclipse. That is the reason yesterday some temples in India closed down to minimize any such energy disturbing the peace.
In Ancient China, solar and lunar eclipses were regarded as heavenly signs that foretold the emperor’s future. They believed that a dragon attacks the Moon during lunar eclipses. In fact the term for eclipse among the Chinese was ‘shi’ which also means ‘to eat’.
Lunar eclipses, unlike solar eclipses, are viewable with the naked eye and are not dangerous for your sight. This is because the Earth will block the sunlight when interposing itself between the Moon and the Sun. A solar eclipse, on the other hand, is very dangerous to look at with naked eyes or with the wrong lenses and it could cause serious damage to the retina.
Lunar eclipses usually take place every 6 months, or a maximum of 3 times a year. So far, none has triggered any cataclysmic episode I know of so God’s mercy still reigns.
If you did not catch yesterday’s blood moon, do not worry, the next one is just around the corner on 21st January 2019 – only it will be visible in Europe and America so start making travel plans!