BLOOD MOON RISING

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by Miriam Raftery

October 8, 2014 (San Diego's East County) -- Tom Lemon snapped this dazzling shot of this morning's blood moon, an unusual type of eclipse in which the moon appears red or orange. The red color of the moon is caused by a shadow cast by the earth.

If you missed this morning's sighting, two more blood moons will occur next year on April 4 and September 28, 2015. These will be the last of four blood moons occuring over a 16 month interval. 

It is rare to have so many total eclipses in a single year, says NASA. In fact you would have to go back 300 years in time before the 20th century to find a similar pattern.

A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth casts a shadow that blocks sunlight that normally reflects off of the moon. A total lunar eclipse can only happen when the sun, Earth and moon are perfectly aligned. During the time of total eclipse, the moon will often look reddish due to red and orange light being scattered by the atmosphere. This eerie, harmless effect has earned the tongue-in-cheek nickname "blood moon."

For more details on blood moons including the upcoming viewings next year, visit http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OH2014.html

Watch an educational video about lunar eclipses at http://www.nasa.gov/watchtheskies/lunar-eclipse-oct-2014.html