PHOTO: Full Blood Moon Overlooks US Flags in Washington During Election Day Morning

by Craig Garrett
(Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

As Americans prepared to vote in a highly contested midterm election, a Full Blood Moon rose ominously in the sky. The last total lunar eclipse of 2022 turned the moon red early Tuesday morning. The event lasted for approximately 90 minutes, and people from all around the country had the chance to view it. Fox News shared an image of the impressive Full Blood Moon on their Instagram.

“Blood moons,” or total lunar eclipses only happen during full moons when the Earth blocks the moon from the sun. When alignment is achieved between these three astronomical bodies, light cast by simultaneous sunrises and sunsets around the Earth reflect ontomoon’s surface , appearing coppery-red for a brief moment .

The density of dust or clouds in our atmosphere during an eclipse contributes to how red tinted the moon will appear, according to NASA. From their sighting point on the moon, people would see a bright red aura emanate from Earth’s dark surface during a total lunar eclipse.

Noah Petro, a scientist with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Project at NASA, explained the phenomen. “It’s a wonderful reminder of this really special connection between the Earth, the moon, and the sun,” Petro told the Washington Post.

Experts advise on the best conditions to see a Full Blood Moon

From 5:17 a.m. until 6:42 a.m., the moon was entirely aglow in a coppery-red hue. However, passionate moon lovers woke up 2 hours before the event to watch the moon enter Earth’s shadow. This caused the satellite to slightly dim out but appear just as stunning nonetheless. The partial eclipse officially started at 4:09 am.

Everyone on the night side of the Earth was able to see the eclipse. According to Petro, Hawaii is the most ideal location for watching an eclipse. “Any place, effectively west of the central part of the country is in a little bit more of a prime location,” Petro explained. “Like real estate, it’s all about location.” Last May, the first lunar eclipse of the year caused the moon to turn a rusty bronze color. Unfortunately, those living in California or the Pacific Northwest could only view the second half of the eclipse.

How common are lunar eclipses?

During any calendar year, there will be at least two lunar eclipses. There can be up to four of them, Geoff Chester, an astronomer and public affairs officer at the U.S. Naval Observatory explained to The Washington Post. Usually when there are two eclipses in one year, they are both total lunar eclipses. “Twice a year, somebody somewhere on the planet will see a total lunar eclipse if it’s a year where we have two eclipses,” Chester explained.

The difference between solar eclipses and lunar eclipses is that the former requires special equipment to view, whereas the latter can be seen with the naked eye. To see lunar eclipses in their best light, however, it’s recommended that you observing them in a dark environment away from any bright lights. Because astronomers know the moon’s patterns so well, they can calculate when future total lunar eclipses will occur. “It all comes down to knowing the orbit of the moon very exactly where we can predict down to the minute an eclipse of the sun and moon,” Petro explained.