The night of September 27-28 will bring a "blood moon" or "supermoon," a cosmic event where the moon takes on a copper color during an eclipse. The celestial occurrence will mark the conclusion of the ongoing "tetrad" of blood moons, which began on April 15 last year, followed by another red-colored lunar eclipse on October 8 last year, and a third on April 4 this year.
According to space.com, a lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon, and Earth align so that Earth's shadow falls across the moon's surface. During total eclipses, the moon doesn't go completely dark; it often turns a reddish hue because it's hit by sunlight bent by Earth's atmosphere, thus earning the name "blood moon."
The stunning alignment of blood moons has only happened a handful of times in the last 2,000 years. Thus, while skywatchers say the series follows natural cycles, some, such as popular author and Christian pastor John Hagee, say the tetrad is a signal of the end times 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.
The reference to the impact is found in Joel 2:30-31, which reads, "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord."
A second reference to a blood moon is found in Revelation 6:12: "I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood."
Pastor Hagee, who famously wrote Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change highlighting his theory, states, "The heavens are God's billboard. He's been sending signals to Earth, and we haven't been picking them up. Two blood moons, in 2014 and 2015, point to dramatic events in the Middle East, and, as a result, changes in the whole world."
He added: "According to the Biblical prophecy, world history is about to change dramatically. To get four blood moons you need something absolutely extraordinary in astrological terms."
Mark Blitz of El Shaddai Ministries in Washington also believes the heavenly occurence is a sign of the apocalypse, as he claims blood moon tetrads have in the past coincided with significant historical events for Israel, including Passover and the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Blitz, who authored Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, said, "The last time there was a tetrad was back in the 1900s, and to my amazement, they also fell on the feasts of Passover and Tabernacles. When I noticed the years these phenomena occurred, my mind began reeling."
Blitz claims that the number of earthquakes have more than doubled over the last ten years: "It was prophesied that there would be earthquakes at increased levels before the return of the Messiah and they were to be likened to birth pangs," he said. "With the increase in activity and the increase in magnitude I definitely see it as being but another sign along with the signs in the heavens that we are at the door."
Despite such theories, EarthSky.org, a popular website for astronomy, notes there have already been 62 tetrads at the beginning of the first century and their occurrences are part of a natural cycle that are easily calculated and thus do not signify the end of times.
Paul Chodas, from NASA's Near-Earth Object office, has also debunked such claims: "There is no existing evidence that an asteroid or any other celestial object is on a trajectory that will impact Earth," he said. "In fact, not a single one of the known objects has any credible chance of hitting our planet over the next century. There is no scientific basis, not one shred of evidence, that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth on those dates."
Additionally, Washington Post contributor Abby Ohlheiser notes that the Jewish calendar is primarily based on the lunar cycle, meaning it makes sense that a tetrad of full moon eclipses would fall on four holidays that correspond to the moon's cycle - especially when some of them, such as Passover, always begin on a full moon.
Meanwhile, According to Timeanddate.com, the total lunar eclipse will be visible from the most of North America and all of South America after sunset September 27. From eastern South America and Greenland, the greatest eclipse happens around midnight September 27-28. In Europe, Africa and the Middle East, the total eclipse takes place in the wee hours of the morning, after midnight and before sunrise September 28. A partial lunar eclipse can be seen after sunset September 27 from western Alaska, or before sunrise September 28 in far-western Asia.