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Thursday, 21 February 2008

Lunar Eclipses in Folklore

If any of you were foolhardy enough to crawl out of bed at around 3.00pm this morning, you may have witnessed the moon turn red as the earth eclipsed it. Though weather forcasters warned that for much of Britain the view of this spectacle would be obscured by cloud and fog.

So, with not the best digital camera in the world in hand, I was fortunate to see the lunar eclipse and take a few shots (see right), despite the conditions forcast. Although another complete eclipse will not be visible from Britain until 2015, in 2010 there will be one that is cut short by the moon setting.

Omen in the sky

As in solar eclipses, the lunar eclipse plays into myth and folklore. Ancient cultures did not understand what caused an eclipse, though they could often predict them. To these ancient cultures the most obvious explanation for this natural phenomena was that something was consuming the Moon, like a dragon, demon or some other supernatural deity.

It was generally concieved that the blood red color displayed in most lunar eclipses meant that the Moon was being eaten, with "blood" spreading across it's face. Even more common was the view that a lunar eclipse was a very bad omen. For the superstitious to witness one is to have misfortune for the next seven days. (Oh dear :( should of stayed in bed)

'Eclipse weather' is a popular term in the south of England for weather following an eclipse of the sun or moon.

Francis Bacon wrote that the "Eclipse of the moon is generally attended by winds, eclipses of the sun by fair weather, but neither of them are often accompanied by rain."

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