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Clear skies showcase heavenly marriage

page5e112POINT BLANCHE--Crystal clear skies sprinkled with sparkling stars provided the perfect background for the consummation of a heavenly marriage – a “Blood Moon” or “Supermoon” eclipse. This once-in-a-generation event will grace the skies again in 2033.

The silver disc of the “supermoon” was steadily blanketed by the reddish hue of earth’s shadow starting around 8:11pm. The total eclipse began at 10:11pm and peaked at 10:47pm. The total eclipse lasted about 72 minutes.

A “supermoon” is a full moon that appears larger than usual because it is at perigee, the closest point of its orbit around Earth. The Supermoon eclipse concurrence is relatively rare, having not happened since 1982.

Although some observers view an eclipse with fear, calling it a “blood moon,” for astronomers and stargazers the event is to be welcomed with celebration.

“It’s a beautiful sight in the night-time sky,” said Mark Hammergren, an astronomer at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. “It’s a way of connecting us to the universe at large. It gives us this view that there’s a bigger picture than just what we’re concerned with in our daily lives.”

The entire eclipse, from first shadow to last, was visible from most of the Americas, including the eastern half of the United States, Greenland, Western Europe, Western Africa North of the equator and parts of Antarctica. Other portions of the world, including Western North America, the rest of Europe and Africa and a swath of Western Asia, saw most of the drama, although they missed the first or fading bites of the moon.

Hammergren pointed out that these astronomical events link humanity to history. Humans have been watching the skies for thousands of years, creating mythology, arriving at scientific discoveries and simply taking pleasure in the movement of celestial bodies.

“Astronomy, in particular, is something that hooks us up to our most ancient roots,” he said.

For some, astronomy also provides clues to earthly futures – and this particular “blood moon,” as some end-times believers call the lunar eclipse for the reddish tint of the earth’s shadow, is revealing of particularly troubled times to come.

The eclipse is said to be the last of a “tetrad”: four consecutive total lunar eclipses, all separated by six lunar months, that took place on Jewish holidays. The first three in the current series took place April 15, 2014; October 8, 2014; and April 4, 2015.

Some Christian ministers have theorised that the sequence has earth-shaking significance, noting that other tetrads took place in key years in history, including 1492 (Jewish expulsion from Spain) and 1948 (a Mideast war).

In promotion for his 2013 book Four Blood Moons, Christian minister John Hagee claimed that the tetrad was a signal being sent by God.

“The coming four blood moons points to a world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015,” he said.

Mark Blitz, head of El Shaddai Ministries and the author of Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, says God is trying to get humanity’s attention and we ignore it at our peril.

“There are always the naysayers and the agnostics when it comes to God trying to reach mankind in His urgent message to repent,” he told World News Daily, which has been charting the eclipse’s arrival with headlines such as “‘Blood Moons’ expert: Get on God’s calendar” and “Coming solar eclipse seen as ‘judgment.’”

“Here we have had four total lunar eclipses in a row on Passover and Tabernacles,” Blitz said. “And just look what is happening in the world today!”

Sceptics have pointed out that claims made of “blood moons” – a term that has arisen only in the past few years, Hammergren said – should be taken with at least a few grains of salt. After all, their coincidence with Jewish holidays is logical, as the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, and some tetrads’ occurrence in significant historical years is an example of confirmation bias: looking for connections that fit preconceived notions.

“Some people look at it as being a portent of doom. That is not uncommon,” said the Griffith Observatory’s Laura Danly. “But it really isn’t. It is the alignment of the sun and the moon.”

Hammergren said, “People have been predicting the end of the world for thousands of years in recorded history, and not a single time has that come about.”

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