On the morning of November 8, you will have a chance to see a total lunar eclipse, also known as a “blood moon.” At the same, you may also see a display of “shooting stars.”
A full moon occurs every 29.5 days as our planet comes between the Moon and the Sun. A couple of times per year, the alignment is precise enough that some part of Earth’s shadow falls on the Moon. If the outer area of the shadow crosses the Moon, we see a slight darkening of the Moon’s light. If the full shadow covers only a portion of the Moon, we see a partial eclipse looking as if someone has taken a bite out of the Moon. However, we will see the more dramatic total lunar eclipse this time.
When the eclipse reaches totality, the Moon will take on an orange or reddish glow. That is why people call it a “blood moon.” That color is because the small amount of sunlight reaching the Moon’s surface is the glow of sunrise and sunset all around the world. Our atmosphere bends and filters the light, blocking the blue light and focusing the lower-frequency reds and yellows on the Moon. We see that reflected back to us, this time for about 85 minutes.
You can enjoy a double treat if the sky is clear and the weather is not too cold. This is also the time for the annual Taurid meteor shower. The annual Taurid “shooting stars” are actually fragments of the comet Encke which burn up from the friction of Earth’s atmosphere. They are primarily tiny sand-grain-size pieces of rock that appear as streaks of light. However, some may be a little larger, looking like fireballs. The Taurids generally move more slowly and are often larger than the meteorites of other annual meteor showers. But, they may be fewer and farther between, with perhaps five to fifteen per hour visible in very dark skies.
The problem this year is that the peak of the Taurids is during the full Moon. The bright Moon always makes it difficult to see the much dimmer meteor showers. However, the 85 minutes of the total lunar eclipse creates an ideal window to look for the meteorites. So you can enjoy the “blood moon” and the “shooting stars” at the same time.
So, how and when can you see them? The total eclipse phase will begin on the morning of November 8 at 5:17 a.m. and end at 6:42 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The partial eclipse will start and end about half an hour before and after those times. The faint penumbral phase will begin and end about an hour before and after the partial eclipse times. To see the Taurids, plan on being where you can see a clear view of the whole sky during the total eclipse phase. If you miss this total lunar eclipse, the next one will not occur until March 14, 2025.
Romans 1:20 tells us that we can know there is a God by observing the things He has made. What do the lunar eclipse and the Taurid meteor shower tell us about God? They are not omens of world events. They tell us that the creation is not chaotic but predictable. We live in a solar “system” in which we can accurately predict the movement of planets and moons and calculate what is going to happen and when–even to the exact minute. God has given us an orderly universe that we can study to learn about His power and wisdom. He has also given us His written word, which we can study to learn about His love and find the instructions for how to enjoy the gifts He wants to give us.
— Roland Earnst © 2022