The lunar eclipse, which occurs roughly twice a year, will turn our rocky satellite a deep coppery shade of red and is the result of the passing in the shadow of the Earth.
When the light refracts differently in the atmosphere and hits the moon, it makes it appear red. During a total eclipse, the entire moon is in shadow and it appears ‘blood red’.
Friday’s striking lunar eclipse is expected to be one of the longest seen this century, at roughly one hour and 43 minutes.
Despite its purely scientific origins, the blood moon is thought by many to be a mystical sign of doom.
Here are some of the most prominent myths and conspiracy theories.
Some believe that the blood moon relates to hidden messages in the bible describing the end of the world.
Doomsday ministers John Hagee and Mark Biltz first popularised the ‘Blood Moon Prophecy’ in 2014, suggesting that the ongoing ‘tetrad’ – four consecutive lunar eclipses, is the indicator of the end of the earth as described in the Bible in Acts 2:20 and Revelation 6:12.
The first eclipse in the prophesied tetrad took place on April 15, 2014, and was followed by Blood Moons on October 8, 2014, April 4, 2015, and September 28, 2015, so the prophecy didn’t work out quite as the preachers expected.
The theory is interpreted from the Book of Joel, which says: “The sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.”
A similar passage in the Book of Revelations reads: “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood.”
Unsurprisingly, the prophecy has been repeatedly dismissed by astronomy experts.
According to astrology experts, eclipses can bring extra insights into people’s lives. This week’s blood moon is set to bring “clarity about knowing what your heart wants, especially when it comes to friendships”, explains professional astronomer Donna Page on Women’s Health.
She predicts that the blood moon will make people re-evaluate the feelings people have about different friendships in their lives.
And if you’re a Leo or Aquarius, you’ll feel the greatest impact of the blood moon, while Tauruses and Scorpios can also expect some heightened insight, says Page.
Native American legend
According to the myth told by the Hupa, a Native American tribe from northern California, the moon has 20 wives and lots of pets, explains E. C. Krupp, astronomer, and director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
Most of these pets were mountain lions and snakes and when the moon didn’t provide them with enough food, they attacked their master, making it bleed.
The eclipse would only be brought to an end when the moon’s wives came to its aid, collecting its blood and bringing it back to health, so the legend goes.
However, the Luiseño tribe of Southern California believes that the eclipse shows that the moon is ill, says Krupp. It is down to the tribe members to sing prayers and chants to nurse it back to health, so the story goes.
South American myth
The Incas believed that the blood moon was the result of an attack by a mythical jaguar which ate the moon, with the resulting carnage explaining the red hue.
The feared that the Jaguar would then fall to Earth to devour people.
In order to prevent such an attack, they would shout and shake their spears at the moon and also beat their dogs to make them bark and howl.
Not everyone believes that the blood moon will bring violence or the end of the world.
The Batammaliba people in Togo and Benin believe that the eclipse is the result of the sun and moon fighting, while the people encourage them to stop.
“They see it as a time of coming together and resolving old feuds and anger,” explains Jarita Holbrook, a cultural astronomer at the University of the Western Cape in Bellville, South Africa in National Geographic. The legend still endures today.