A total lunar eclipse is coming Tuesday, and there has been plenty of talk about the "blood moon" and the beginning of a lunar tetrad. Whether or not you believe in prophecies, the total lunar eclipse will be a skywatcher's delight and there will be several live streams of the event.
While you can view the full moon on Monday, those wishing to see the total lunar eclipse will have to stay up late. According to NASA, the eclipse will begin around 2 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, when the moon will enter the partial shadow, or penumbra, of the Earth. During that time, stargazers will see a sped-up version of the phases of the moon. The peak of the total lunar eclipse begins at 3:45 a.m. EDT, when the moon enters Earth's shadow, known as the umbra. During that time, the moon will turn a shade of red.
Slooh astronomer Bob Berman explains the phenomenon: "All the world’s sunrises and sunsets send their indirect light to the moon at this time -- as the only light hitting the Moon. The result is that the fully eclipsed moon assumes a gorgeous coppery color." The total lunar eclipse will be visible across North America.
The Virtual Telescope Project will also have a live stream of the lunar eclipse, The broadcast begins at 2:30 a.m. EDT and can be viewed here. A fourth lunar eclipse live stream will originate from Columbus State University beginning at 11 p.m. EDT.
NASA's total lunar eclipse live stream begins around 2 a.m. EDT, and the space agency hosted a Reddit AMA session with planetary scientist Renee Weber. The space agency will host a Web chat with astronomer Mitzi Adams and astrophysicist Alphonse Sterling beginning at 1 a.m. EDT at the dedicated lunar eclipse page.
The Slooh broadcast will originate from the Prescott Observatory in Arizona and will feature Berman, Slooh observatory director Paul Cox and Duncan Copp, professor emeritus of astronomy at University of California Berkeley, discussing the total lunar eclipse. As Slooh notes, the total lunar eclipse comes on the heels of the closest approach of Mars. As stargazers observe the eclipse they will also be able to see Mars and Spica, a bright blue star.
Tuesday's total lunar eclipse marks the beginning of a tetrad, a series of four total lunar eclipses occurring every six months. The next total lunar eclipse will take place on Oct. 8. The tetrad has led to some talk about the "end of days" or something historical cataclysmic during this event, but chances are that if anything does happen it's coincidental and nothing to do with a blood moon. The "blood moon prophecy" has been touted by Texas pastor John Hagee, who has written a series of books linking the tetrad to a passages in the Bible.
The total lunar eclipse also will have engineers at NASA nervous, as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will not have chance to recharge its batteries because it will pass through the Earth's shadow twice and relies on solar power to replenish its batteries.
Slooh's total eclipse live stream begins at 2 a.m. EDT and can be viewed below.
NASA's broadcast of the total eclipse will begin around 2 a.m. EDT. The lunar eclipse will be a three-hour event, ending at 5 a.m. EDT.