Bad News: Today’s Blood Moon Isn’t a Sign of the End of the World

Blood moon.
Blood moon. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

I’m so sorry to have to break it to you, but you know the so-called “blood moon” that’s happening on Friday? The one that will be occurring because of a lunar eclipse? Unfortunately, the phenomenon doesn’t signify that the world is ending.

As they do, tabloids have been going wild with conspiracy theories about Christian prophecies and other signs that the blood moon may be a harbinger of the end of times. “Indiana-based pastor Paul Begley warned the Blood Moon is a prophetic sign of the apocalypse,” Express reports.“Despite its purely scientific origins, the blood moon is thought by many to be a mystical sign of doom,” reads The Mirror.

To be honest, reprieve from the current state of the world and/or from life itself certainly sounds great. So I checked in with Dr. Charles Alcock, the director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, to find out whether that’s really happening. Sadly, he told me the blood moon basically means nothing, scientifically speaking … and that life will, sigh, go on.

“What’s actually happening has nothing to do with blood,” Alcock explained. “It’s an eclipse of the moon. So it’s a full moon, and it moves into the complete shadow of the Earth and gets no direct light from the Earth whatsoever. But sunlight does curve around the atmosphere of the Earth and make it to the moon.” In other words, the Earth casts a maroon shadow on the moon, which explains the ominous tint.

“You know how when a sun is setting, it goes red?” Alcock asked. “It’s the same phenomenon. … It becomes a faint reddish color of moon while it’s in the shadow of the Earth.”

Okay, got it: It’s just a lunar eclipse. But, uh, what does it mean about the state of things? “It has nothing to do with what’s going on here on Earth — it’s not threatening — it’s just one item falling into the shadow of another,” Alcock said.

Ughhhhhhh, fine. But at least I can enjoy the beautiful weirdly bloody looking moon, right? Uh, wrong. “It’s not visible from North America,” Alcock further explained. “We’ll be on the other side of the Earth and it will be daytime for us. It’s only the people who will be experiencing nighttime during the lunar eclipse that will see it.”

So I guess we’ll all have to live, and we won’t even get to enjoy the dang thing. Bummer.

Bad News: Blood Moon Isn’t a Sign of the End of the World