A lunar tetrad - four total lunar eclipses in a row begins tonight. Now, when they say 'in a row', there is some time in between them, 6 lunations, to be exact. Now I have two new words of the day. So, just to save you counting up lunations on your fingers, the tetrad includes tonight, the 15th of April, the 8th of October this year and the 8th of April and 28th of September next year.
Astronomers say a twilight total lunar eclipse is quite rare.
The rarity of the occurrence as well as the nature of this particular tetrad, has given rise to a host of speculation, prophecy, astrological warnings and religious concern.
Some see the four blood moons as evidence of apocryphal prophecy that predicts the end times. The total eclipses coincide with important Jewish festivals. Today is the second day of Passover, for example. But then again, Jewish festivals often coincide with full moons and full moons are essential for a total eclipse.
For those who look to astrology for answers, the lunar eclipse will apparently bring into focus our relationships and can symbolise powerful endings and completion. This is a time for sudden breakthroughs, they say, a time for cleansing and shifting.
And then there are the physics of the thing. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its shadow. This can only occur when the Sun, Earth and Moon are aligned in syzygy, my third great word of the day, with the Earth in the middle.
The blood moon aspect is due to sunlight passing through the Earth's atmosphere and refracting to the red end of the spectrum. The Moon is made of rock so it does not emit light on its own, but reflects light from the sun. In this instance, the Earth is between the two celestial bodies and the light is 'scattered'.
Whether tonight heralds for you a new beginning, an ominous sign or a fascinating astronomical occurrence, I think it is always good to be reminded that we are little parts of a greater whole. The Sun, the Moon, the Earth and the stars keep doing their thing in spite of what may be going on for us in our heads and our hearts. A little bit of awe and wonder is good for the soul. Embrace it.