Civilisations in the past and present have always viewed the disappearance of the Moon as a sign of danger or impending chaos. An estimated 2.8billion people will able to see the event tonight which will the only total lunar eclipse for the next 10 years. The celestial event will last for five hours in total and the Moon will appear even larger than usual due to its proximity to Earth.
A Native American tribe, the Hupa, believed the Moon had 20 wives and numerous pets such as lions and snakes.
When the moon failed to bring them enough food, they attacked and made him bleed.
The eclipse would end when the Moon’s wives came to protect him, collecting his blood and restoring his health.
In South America, the Incas believed a Blood Moon was a sign it had been attacked by a cosmic jaguar, that would then crash down on Earth to devour them.
To drive the predator away, they would shake their spears at the moon and stir up a racket while also getting their dogs to bark and howl.
Heading away from the negative conatations, there are some tribes presently who view the celestial wonder in a better light.
The Batammaliba people in Togo and Benin, Africa, believe it signifies the Sun and Moon are fighting during and humans need to encourage them to stop.
When understanding of the eclipse phenomenon spread, Christopher Columbus once used his knowledge of a coming lunar eclipse to manipulate a Caribbean tribe into continuing to feed his crew.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon creating a shadow which stops solar rays reaching the surface.
This morning, the Moon will turn to a coppery red colour as longer wavelengths colours in the spectrum are blocked and filtered away while shorter wavelengths such as red and orange are able to pass through it.
Tonight’s Moon as also be called a “Super Blood Wolf Moon” in reference to the Native Indians’ use of “wolf” to indicate a full Moon in January.
Tom Kerss, an astronomer fro the Royal Observatory Greenwich said: ”So this is a really good one to catch as it’s going to be a long time before you catch another one like this – we will have other lunar eclipses, we just won’t have anything quite as spectacular until May 2021.”