A new lunar eclipse and "blood moon" is set to happen on Wednesday, May 26, sparking discussion about if and how celestial events can foretell the coming of Christ.
According to CBN News, experts say the eclipse will be partially visible from eastern Asia, Australia, the Pacific Ocean and much of the Americas.
"After 2020's dramatic 'Christmas Star' or 'great conjunction' of planets and summer 2020's rare bright Comet NEOWISE, 2021 is going to be a year of 'supermoons' and a 'Blue Moon,' but the highlight will be May's total lunar eclipse," said Jamie Carter, author of A Stargazing Program for Beginners: A Pocket Field Guide.
Science of Super Moons
A lunar eclipse happens when the moon passes through Earth's shadow in space. A super moon is when a full moon is at the closest point to Earth in its orbit, thus appearing larger and brighter.
May's lunar eclipse is called a Super Blood Moon because it will be the first total eclipse coinciding with a blood moon since January 2019.
"A full moon occurs once in each lunar cycle, which lasts 29.5 days," the National History Museum explained in an article. "But not every full moon is a super moon. There are only usually three or four super moons in a year."
In May, the moon will move into the Earth's umbral shadow, appearing to turn the lunar surface a reddish-copper color for about 15 minutes, thus getting the name "blood moon."
The reddish color happens when some of the sunlight passing through Earth's atmosphere is filtered, leaving behind mostly long wavelengths of the color red.
"During a total eclipse, the moon passes so deep into the shadow that any light reaching its surface only comes from the edge of Earth, where sunrises and sunsets are taking place," Space.com reported. "The light falls on to the moon and turns it red, or sometimes appearing as a more ruddy brown depending on how dusty your local atmosphere is."
According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, the moon will be low in the sky during the eclipse, "so find a high vantage point with a clear horizon for the best view."
According to Forbes, May's supermoon should appear about 7 percent bigger than the moon typically looks at its average distance.
Some Christians have long pointed to what they believe are prophetic implications behind blood moons. In Joel 2:31, Joel writes, "The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord."
Also, in Acts 2:20, Paul writes a similar statement, saying, "The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord."
Then Revelation 6:12 says, "I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red."
Just ahead of the 2019 super blood moon, some End Times preachers and authors pointed to the skies as a sign of the end of the world and the second coming of Christ.
"The blood moon is definitely a prophetic sign," Christian preacher Paul Begley said in 2018. "There are way too many prophecies in play here … we're in the end times."
In 2013, pastor John Hagee also warned that four consecutive blood moons between April 2014 and September 2015 were a Biblical prophecy. He released a book in 2013 called Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change. Hagee pointed to the tetrad, or four consecutive blood moons, as a signal of "a world-shaking event."
Also referencing the tetrad, Mark Biltz, founder of the Washington State-based El Shaddai Ministries, released Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs in 2014.
"I'm just saying there's a good chance there could be a war with Israel," he said in an interview. "I'm also saying there's a good chance there could be economic calamity, and I'm basing that on the Bible and patterns."
Critics of End Times preachers have long pointed out that Jesus told his followers that no one can know when the End Times will come.
In Matthew, Jesus says, "For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.
"That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man."
Other cultures and religions have also interpreted blood moons as a dark sign.
Incan myths said that a lunar eclipse meant that a jaguar had eaten the moon and ancient Mesopotamians believed an eclipse was an effort to kill the king.
According to the Independent, a lunar eclipse in India is a bad omen and during them, people protect food and water and perform cleansing rituals.
The Native American Hupa and Luiseño tribes believed that a blood moon meant the moon was wounded or sick. Following the eclipse, tribesmen or wives would try to "heal" the moon with songs and chanting.
In the Batammaliba tribe in Africa, the lunar eclipse is seen as a conflict between the sun and the moon. In response, the tribe honors a practice to dismiss old feuds and seek resolution with others.
Daniel Brown, an astronomy professor at Nottingham Trent University, wrote of the many cultural beliefs about lunar eclipses: "So my suggestion is this: watch the lunar eclipse as the sky unfolds above you. Give it your own name, give it your own meaning, and enjoy it with your friends and family."
June Solar Eclipse
Two weeks after May's super moon, there will be a "Ring of Fire" solar eclipse on June 10.
Parts of the northeastern U.S. and Canada should be able to see the partial solar eclipse early on June 10. Some areas in northern Canada, Ontario and Russia, may also be able to see the "Ring of Fire" part of the eclipse, which should last more than 3 minutes.
Photo courtesy: Nick Owuor/Astro Nic Visuals/Unsplash
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.