May 20, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Blood Moon May Bring Weird Phenomenon Researchers Say

Oct 06, 2014 01:44 AM EDT

For millennia, man has witnessed the power of the moon. Moving the tides and illuminating the night, it has served as a cultural icon and often deity, as its powers were worshipped in awe. And celestial events have been documented for ages through the waning and waxing of the moon.

But contemporary research in lunar astronomy has pointed out that many of the phenomena once related to the mystic powers of the moon are simply not possible, better suited in folklore. But with the anticipated "Blood Moon" arriving later this week, scientists may have failed in their assertions.

Early in the morning of Wednesday Oct. 8, onlookers in the northern hemisphere will be able to catch a glimpse at the fading "Blood Moon" at sunrise, as we witness the final total lunar eclipse for 2014. And though the total lunar eclipse is quite a rare occasion, only happening once or twice a year, this eclipse may bring with it theoretically impossible situations.

No, we're not talking about werewolves or the walking dead, what we're talking about is the impossible "Selenelion". The theoretical anomaly occurs when the total eclipse of the moon and the rising sun occur at the same time, a simultaneous situation that celestial geometry says cannot exist. But researchers believe that with the unique circumstances of this "Blood Moon" some people East of the Mississippi may find the sun and the moon occupying the sky at the same times.

As during a lunar eclipse the sun and the moon are exactly 180 degrees apart in the sky, the opportunity for this blood moon to have perfect alignment (called a "syzygy") would make the Selenelion a seemingly impossible phenomenon. But the refraction of the moonlight that causes the "blood moon" to seem red in hue may also allow for the lunar eclipse and sunrise to be seen at the same time, even when they're physically beyond the horizon.

Much like light passing through water, distorting the image of a fish or a straw as the light refracts through it, the images of the sun and the moon are refracted as they pass through the Earth's atmosphere. And it is this refraction that researchers believe will allow some lucky viewers the opportunity to see the impossible Selenelion for a short window of roughly 2 to 9 minutes on Wednesday morning... but only if you're in the right place at the right time.

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