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A blood red moon and Columbus

What does a blood red moon have to do with Christopher Columbus?

The first total eclipse to be visible in the U.S. since 2012 will occur on April 15.  It will reportedly peak at about 3 a.m. EDT and be visible from the Americas, Australia and over the Pacific Ocean.

It will also signal the start of a lunar eclipse tetrad—a series of 4 consecutive total eclipses happening at approximately six month intervals.  There will be additional total eclipses again October 8, 2014, a second on April 4 2015 and a yet a third on September 28, 2015.

blood red moon

A blood red moon

Before answering the question “What does a blood red moon have to do with Christopher Columbus?” let’s review the basics.  A lunar eclipse happens when Earth’s shadow blocks the light of the Sun which would otherwise reflect off of the moon.  There are three kinds of lunar eclipses—partial, penumbral and –the most noteworthy– the total eclipse during which the planet’s shadow covers the moon.   One needs no more than the naked eye to view them from anywhere on the night side of Earth.

Now what does a blood red moon have to do with Christopher Columbus?  In 1504 history notes that explorer Christopher Columbus used a blood-red moon  to spook the natives on Jamaica into providing him and his entire crew with food.  It was his fourth and final sea voyage to the New World and Columbus and crew were in dire straits.

While at sea an epidemic of ship-worms had eaten holes in the ships in his fleet.  The damage had become so extensive he eventually had to abandon two of his ships.  On June 25, 1503 he had no other choice but to beach his remaining pair of ships on the shores of Jamaica.

Jamaicans gave Columbus and his castaway crew a friendly welcome and even fed them once they came ashore.  Six months later, however, there was a problem.  Columbus’ crew mutinied.  They killed and stole from some of the natives who were now tired of having to feed them.

Columbus consulted an almanac he carried with him on his voyages.  It noted that a lunar eclipse would occur on February 29, 1504.  He set up a meeting with the native leader and told him that he should “expect a sign of God’s displeasure three nights later”, when He (God) would cause the full moon to be “inflamed with wrath.”

blood red moon

Christopher Columbus

Three nights later when the blood red moon appeared in the sky, the native Jamaicans became terrified.  They cried out apologies to God and Columbus.  “With great howling and lamentation (they) came running from every direction to the ships laden with provisions” recalled Columbus’ son in an account of the event.

olumbus had studied his almanac well.  Immediately before the total phase of the blood red moon eclipse ended, he proclaimed to the natives that God had forgiven them and was going to return the moon to its natural state.  Further incidents were avoided and Columbus and his crew were fed and looked after until they were rescued in November when Columbus and crew were taken back to Spain.  A blood red moon and Columbus prevented further tragedies.

What does a blood red moon have to do with Christopher Columbus?

(Images courtesy of WinAmp and History.com )

About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.