Blood moon rises over San Joaquin Valley skies

Bee staff and news servicesApril 13, 2014 

A photograph of the "blood moon" lunar eclipse taken in Clovis early Tuesday, April 15, 21014.


Sky-gazers in North and South America were treated to a full lunar eclipse — at least those fortunate enough to have clear skies.

The moon was eclipsed by the Earth's shadow late Monday, beginning around 10 p.m. and lasting for 5½ hours. The total phase of the eclipse lasted 78 minutes.

For some, the moon appeared red-orange because of all the sunsets and sunrises shimmering from Earth, thus the name "blood moon."

It's the first of four eclipses this year and the first of four total lunar eclipses this year and next. In the meantime, get ready for a solar eclipse in two weeks.

Lunar eclipses aren't uncommon, but it's been a while since a decent one in the Central Valley.

The last such eclipse occurred in December 2011, but it was even later at night and less convenient last night's. The region also was treated to a prime-time lunar eclipse in 2008 just as the moon was rising.

Why the red color? Stockton Astronomical Society member Jeff Baldwin describes it on the club's website.

Imagine if you were standing on the moon during one of these eclipses. You would see the sun blocked out by Earth, but you would also see what Baldwin describes as a "dazzling" ring around our planet as sunlight passes through Earth's atmosphere -- light from every sunrise and sunset in the world, all at once.

That reddish-orange light travels to the moon and reflects back toward us, giving the moon its bloodlike appearance.

NASA's lunar eclipse website

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Fresno Bee staff and Alex Breitler of the Stockton Record contributed to this report.

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