Time lapse photo the lunar eclipse of 2015, photo by Mike Taylor Photo, Maine
the Lunar Eclipse (2020)
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes ..."
~Van Morrison, Moondance, 1969
The January 20-21 total lunar eclipse – the last total lunar eclipse to grace Earth’s sky until May of 2021 – is being called a Blood Moon eclipse. The expression "Blood Moon" to refer to any lunar eclipse has only recently become popular, and was formerly only used to refer to a sequence of consecutive four total eclipses, a lunar tetrad. Apocalyptic writing during the last lunar tetrad in 2013 helped to popularize the term. The full moon nearly always appears coppery red during a total lunar eclipse because the dispersed light from all the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets falls on the face of the moon at mid-eclipse.
Dance of the Red Moon
Lunar eclipses are somewhat rare events, although not as rare as solar eclipses, because unlike solar eclipses they can be viewed from anywhere on the dark side of the Earth. Throughout history lunar eclipses have been held to be responsible for lost battles, and have helped make possible extraordinary escapes.
The Ross Sea party was a component of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–17. Five men were stranded not far away from Cape Evans. There was sea ice between them and the relative safety of the hut on Cape Evans.
On 8 May two of the men, Aeneas Mackintosh and Victor Hayward, decided to make an attempt to reach the hut. Soon after they set out a blizzard hit. When the weather cleared up, the remaining men tried to look for them, but realized that the ice was far too thin to cross, and that their friends had been lost.
Now they knew that they should wait for a thicker ice and for the full moon to attempt the crossing. Having the full moon was essential, because during polar night the Moon is the only source of natural light other than the extremely dim light of the stars. the weather did not cooperate during the full moon of June, but on 15 July, everything seemed to be just right: calm weather, thick ice, clear skies and a full Moon.
The men started their journey in the morning. When the Moon rose, however, the men were surprised to find it was about to be eclipsed! Although the eclipse continued for few hours, the men were fortunate because it was only a partial eclipse. They reached Cape Evans later on the same day.
For more significant eclipses in history, click the red moon spiral!