Blood Moon: Longest Eclipse of The Century This Friday

And the Christopher Columbus Blood Moon Hoax

The longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century takes place on Friday, July 27.

The total phase of this “blood moon” eclipse will last a whopping 1 hour and 43 minutes. During this time, Earth’s moon will turn a spectacular red or ruddy-brown color.

From start to finish, the entire celestial event will last nearly 4 hours.

Unfortunately, this eclipse won’t be visible to viewers in North America, except via webcasts. Observers in much of Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia and the Indian Ocean region will get a clear view, weather permitting.

July’s total lunar eclipse takes place on the same day the planet Mars reaches its opposition. The ‘opposition’ means it will shine at its best in the night sky.

This month, Mars will be at its closest to Earth since 2003. After opposition, when Mars will be brightest, it will reach that closest point on July 31.

For the exact science on this blood moon, please see

Image by: Giuseppe Petricca

A Blood Moon Hoax

In 1504, Christopher Columbus pulled off an eclipse trick not dissimilar to the one the witch attempted in the 14th century, using knowledge of the kind Bradwardine wielded to thwart her manipulations.

As Duncan Steel explains in his book Eclipse: The Celestial Phenomenon that Changed the Course of History, in June of 1503, a shipworm epidemic destroyed two of Columbus’s four ships, forcing him to land on the Caribbean island now known as Jamaica. The island’s indigenous Arawak people for six months fed the uninvited guests. Eventually, however, they grew annoyed and stopped wanting to give up their cassava and fish. Columbus’s Spanish sailors mutinied, massacred Arawaks, and stole food.

Columbus had to do something. Three days before a lunar eclipse was to occur on the night of Feb. 29, he told the Arawak chief his Christian god was angry because the locals were no longer being generous. Evidence of his god’s displeasure would be revealed in three days’ time when the moon would disappear from the sky and turn red with fury. He based this on knowledge of a coming lunar eclipse, noted in the 15th-century astronomer Johannes Müller von Königsberg’s almanac with astronomical tables, which sailors relied upon.

Indeed, three days later, the moon disappeared and seemed to bleed. Terrified, the Arawaks came running to the Spanish ships laden with provisions and beseeching Columbus to intercede with his god on their behalf.

The Spaniard pretended to consider the requests while he waited in private for the moon to re-emerge from the Earth’s shadow. Finally, Columbus said he’d negotiated an agreement of peace, premised on the Arawaks continuing to feed the Spanish.

Nearly a year and a half after they landed on the island, the Spanish headed home. Soon after, the conquest of the Caribbean and the North and South American continents began in earnest. If Columbus hadn’t tricked the Arawaks, it’s possible neither he nor his crew would have made it back to Spain. The world might be very different today.

For the historical view of blood moons, see:

Image by: Jason Hayes


Blood Moon: Longest Eclipse of The Century This Friday

Staff Writers

The staff writers at Cullman Today are a collaborative group of citizen reporters sharing the writing of stories based upon their personal interests and work schedules.

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