A large red moon will ominously rise over the country hours before polls open on Election Day on Tuesday. We’ll be seeing a total lunar eclipse.
What exactly is happening celestially during a total lunar eclipse?
“It’s the result of an alignment of the Sun, Earth, and Moon in that order, such that the Moon falls directly into the shadow of the Earth,” explained local astronomer Eric McLaughlin of the Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory.
The event shouldn’t be confused with a solar eclipse, like the one we saw in 2017. That happens when the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, blocking the Sun from our view.
The formal name for what will happen is “Beaver Blood Moon” — beaver because this is the time of year beavers are collecting wood to keep their dams warm before ice sets in, and blood because of the eerie color.
McLaughlin says the red color is due to the difference in the refraction of light during an eclipse.: “The blue light gets filtered and scattered, but the red light goes through and gets refracted onto the moon when it’s in the shadow of the Earth.”
Putting it more poetically: “When you’re looking at a reddish Moon during a lunar eclipse, you’re literally seeing the projection of all the sunrises and sunsets on the Earth projected onto the Moon.”
It takes about five hours for the eclipse to start, reach totality, and then end, but you’ll have the best luck viewing it during totality, which begins at 2:17 a.m. and ends at 3:42 a.m. our time. (Ouch!)
But we may be supremely unlucky. Tuesday looks like it’s going to be one of the 15 or so days out of the year when we have rain, according to the forecast. So, our Election Day may be overshadowed by both a lunar eclipse and dark rain clouds.
If our view is obscured, we’ll have to wait until March 2025 to see the next total lunar eclipse. There will be several partial lunar eclipses between now and then, as well as another total solar eclipse in April 2024.
But even if we can’t see the eclipse, some people believe we will still be able to feel its effects.
For some, an eclipse is more than just a breathtaking celestial event. It’s also spiritually meaningful and has been for millennia. For modern believers in astrology, a lunar eclipse magnifies the effects of a full moon and signifies a release of pent up emotion and the effects could last for months.
Astrologically speaking, the moon will be in Taurus and the Sun will be in Scorpio when the eclipse happens. Taurus, the bull, is characteristically stable, stubborn, and realistic, while Scorpio, the scorpion, can be dark, ambitious, and ruthless.
“Emotions will be high that day,” predicted local astrologer, psychic, and medium Jeremy Lewis. “Because it’s an election day, people may be projecting all their anger, hurt, and fear onto politicians and the government.”
“It’s gonna be ugly. I’m not even gonna lie,” Lewis admits.
We may be tempted into reactionary and emotional decision-making, but Lewis counsels observation and consideration instead. Maybe that means we should really study our ballots before making an impulsive decision based on fear or anger.
Lunar eclipses often point to a significant change or shift. So does that mean the House of Representatives will shift control from Democrats to Republicans as all the polls say? Will our local and regional elected offices undergo a shift in power?
Solar eclipses can signify new beginnings, while lunar eclipses mark a conclusion. A conclusion, perhaps, to the drawn-out election cycle? Definitely a conclusion of those ads for Prop 26 and Prop 27.
“People will be speaking up,” explained Lewis, “making their voice heard and making change.” Is there a better analogy for voting?
In short, it’s a time for confrontations, but also a chance to find common ground.
More information: The Rancho Mirage Observatory is holding open-house style Public Exploration Nights throughout the month. You can find Jeremy Lewis at Crystal Fantasy in Palm Springs reading Tarot Cards.