V RaptureChrist Newsletter
May 15, 2003

Why Do We Have a Lunar Eclipse?

Red Moon from lunar eclipse

On the night of May 15, 2003 a total Lunar eclipse was visible from the Americas and Western Europe.  

How often do Lunar eclipses occur, and why does the Moon take on a reddish color?

The Moon rotates around the Earth every 29.5 days -- from where we derive the word "month."  We usually see a full Moon every month because  the plane of the orbit of the Moon is different from the plane of the orbit of the Earth around the Sun.  This is the reason we do not have a lunar eclipse every month.    But two to four times a year, the Moon's orbit will cross through part of the shadow cast by the Earth and we will be able to see either a partial or total eclipse of the Moon. 

There are basically 3 types of Lunar eclipses, but only two are visible to the unaided eye (the partial and total eclipses).

1. Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

  • The Moon passes through Earth's penumbral shadow (difficult to observe).

2. Partial Lunar Eclipse

  • portion of the Moon passes through Earth's umbral shadow.

3. Total Lunar Eclipse

  • The entire Moon passes through Earth's umbral shadow.


Diagram of Lunar eclipse
Lunar Eclipse
(size and distance not to scale)

To be eclipsed, the Moon needs to be a full Moon.  There are two regions of shadow (the outer or penumbral shadow, and the inner or umbral shadow). When the Moon enters the penumbral shadow, some of the rays from the Sun are blocked, but when the Moon enters the umbral (inner) shadow, all of the direct light from the Sun is blocked.

The reason why the Moon is still visible in the umbral zone is that not all of the Sun's rays are blocked.  Some of the rays are refracted as they pass through the Earth's atmosphere and they are able to reach the Moon.  Not only that, but the rays that are able to reach the Moon are usually the ones that are longer in wavelength (red), giving the moon a reddish color.  If there are clouds or dust, the atmosphere will refract even more of the Sun's rays, so the Moon will appear blood red.

More information about future lunar eclipses can be found on this  lunar eclipse page.

Lunar Eclipse -- A Sign?

Jesus said:

Matthew 24:29
But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Mark 13:24
But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT.

Mark 13:25
AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.

Mark 13:26
Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory.

Luke 21:25
There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,

The book of Revelation also mentions these signs.

Revelation 6:12
I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became as BLOOD. 

Revelation 6:13
The stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when it is shaken by a great wind. 

Revelation 6:14
The sky was removed as a scroll when it is rolled up. Every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 

Revelation 6:15
The kings of the earth, the princes, the commanding officers, the rich, the strong, and every slave and freeman, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains. 

Revelation 6:16
They told the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 

Revelation 6:17
for the great day of His wrath has come; and who is able to stand?"

The sequence of events to watch for are:

1.  An earthquake
2.  Sun turning black
3.  Moon turning blood red
4.  Stars of heaven falling
5.  Mountains, islands, and sea shaking

Therefore, watch the sky for these aforementioned signs need to occur before the coming of the Messiah!