Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mars Closest To Earth During 'Blood Moon' On April 14

Mars Opposition taken by the Hubble Telescope.  Credit: NASA

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- On April 14, 2014, Mars and Earth will be closest together on the same night a 'Blood Moon' total lunar eclipse occurs.

Mars will be so close to Earth this week that amateur astronomers with backyard telescopes will be treated to a viewing of the Red Planet in great detail, including being able to see the Martian polar ice cap that is made up of regular water ice and frozen carbon-dioxide (commonly known as dry ice).

A full lunar eclipse will also occur on the night of April 14 and into the morning of April 15, depending on the viewer's time zone.

The lunar eclipse will begin at 12:53 a.m. EDT on April 15 (9:53 p.m. PDT on April 14) and ends at 6:38 a.m. EDT / 3:38 a.m. PDT the morning of April 15th.

According to NASA, this full lunar eclipse is special because it is the first of four consecutive full lunar eclipses in 2014 and 2015 that make up a Tetrad.  

For some believers in Christian prophecy, these four Blood Moons mark the beginning of the end of the World, Armageddon, and the Apocalypse.

These NASA videos explain when and where to watch the April 2014 total lunar eclipse (also known as a 'Blood Moon') that is the first of four full eclipses to make up a Tetrad.  Video Credit: NASA JPL and [email protected]

The total lunar eclipse, when the moon is expected to turn into a dark-copper red Blood Moon, will start at 3:07 a.m. EDT / 12:07 a.m. PDT and end at 4:25 a.m. EDT / 1:25 a.m. PDT on April 15th. 

Viewing area of the April 2014 Lunar Eclipse.  Credit: NASA / JPL

The total eclipse will be viewable for most of North America and western South America.


On April 8th, the Earth, Mars, and sun were arranged in almost a straight line.   Astronomers call this alignment "opposition" because the sun and Mars are on opposite sides of the Earth.

That means that Mars rises in the east just as the sun sets in the west, and Mars sets in the west just as the sun is rises in the east.  But the alignment on April 8th wasn't the closest that Mars and Earth were together.  That's because the planets' orbits around the sun are elliptical instead of perfectly round.

The following [email protected] video explains how close Mars will be to the Earth on April 14: