TIME astronomy

Why Do Blood Moons Occur?

Look up into the sky at 3:07 a.m. E.T. on Tuesday, and you'll witness one of four consecutive and complete lunar eclipses we'll see this year and next

Millions of people will witness this year’s first Blood Moon, a.k.a. total lunar eclipse.

Our ancestors had many prophecies surrounding such events. The Maya, for instance, believed that the Blood Moon was caused by a cosmic jaguar swallowing the moon. Others have seen it as a sign the end times are near.

Thankfully, science offers its own explanation for the celestial phenomenon. The excitement this time is that the four consecutive and complete lunar eclipses — or the tetrad — occur at approximately six-month intervals and will all be visible over the U.S. this year and next. TIME’s science editor Jeffrey Kluger explains.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


YOU BROKE TIME.COM!

Dear TIME Readers,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team