Skywatchers in North and South America can witness a rare and ominous event tonight, when a rare total lunar eclipse turns the moon blood-red.
According to NASA, the chilling display – appropriately nicknamed a “Blood Moon” – is the first of four total lunar eclipses that will be viewable in North America within the next year and a half. While the dramatic red color is commonly seen when Earth's shadow completely covers the moon – also known as an umbral eclipse – it's extremely rare for a cluster of four such events (called a tetrad) to occur over such a relatively short span of time.
The first eclipse can be viewed in most of North and South America beginning around 2am Eastern on Tuesday, April 15th. The blood-red phenomenon will begin about an hour later, as the Earth's shadow obscures the moon completely. If you're not in the viewing areas, a live Ustream feed of the eclipse will be launched by NASA.gov on the night of the event.
The next three umbral eclipses will take place on October 8, 2014, April 4, 2015, and September 28, 2015.