'Blood moon' takes center stage in night's sky - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

'Blood moon' takes center stage in night's sky

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A "blood moon" rose over San Diego Monday night. The full moon had a reddish hue, which was the result of a perfect alignment with the Earth and the Sun.

Monday night was the first in what is called a lunar tetrad - four successful total lunar eclipses with no partial eclipses in between, every six lunar months or six full moons. 

"It's one of the few times you can see the cosmos in motion. They can see the shadow of the Earth falling on the face of the moon and the moon moving through that shadow," astronomer Dennis Mammana said.

Physics professors say total lunar eclipses happen every six months, just not always visible from the United States. 

"A cosmic light switch turning off the Sun is something that we don't get to do everyday on the moon," said UCSD Assoc. physics professor Thomas Murphy Jr.

This total lunar eclipse turns the moon a burnt reddish orange and is dubbed a "blood moon." It's a new term astronomers don't use, rather a Christian pastor wrote about it in a 2013 book. Something, that astronomers say helped the Greeks. 

"That shadow of the Earth helped the ancient Greeks to determine that the Earth is a sphere because the shadow of the Earth was circular," Dennis Mammana said.  

Monday night's "blood moon" will be late, starting around 11 p.m. and could last until 2:30 a.m. - one that astronomers say was worth staying up to witness. 

"The opportunity to share these amazing cosmos with people. People tend to come out when there is a special event of some sort in the heavens. And this is a special event," Mammana said.

Visitors from Minnesota put it on their calendar to watch for the total lunar eclipse while vacationing in San Diego.

"I was noticing the cloud came up but it was really bright before," said Sarah Ellefson.

They went to the Ocean Beach Pier to watch lunar experience, but were disappointed by the marine layer.

"I hope it clears up I was just saying the clouds better move," said Ellefson. 

Another family from Las Vegas saw the forecast for clear skies by the beach and was looking forward to the red moon experience too at Ocean Beach Pier. 

"You would think being out here it would be a better view but you can't see anything with fog coming in," said Carol Monk.

The next one in this lunar tetrad is expected to happen October 2014.

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