(CBS SF) — Get ready to feast your eyes on an extra special and rare total lunar eclipse Saturday morning that has some Christians worried this Easter weekend.
For the third time in less than a year, the moon will dip into Earth’s shadow, turning its bright white globe a deep coppery-red in a matter of minutes.
The action begins at 3:16 a.m. PDT on the morning of April 4 when the edge of the moon first enters the amber core of Earth’s shadow.
For the next hour and 45 minutes, Earth’s shadow will move across the lunar disk, ultimately covering the entire moon at 4:58 a.m. PDT.
The total phase of the lunar eclipse will only last about 5 minutes, making it the shortest lunar eclipse of the century on the morning of Easter Vigil, traditionally observed as the period between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The eclipse also falls within the first night of Passover, observed by Jews worldwide beginning Friday at sunset.
Some total eclipses last for more than an hour, in this case, totality spans just 4 minutes and 43 seconds since the moon will be skimming the outskirts of the Earth’s shadow, rather than passing centrally through it.
The moon’s red tint is caused by the Earth covering the sun. This red light from the rim of the Earth then beams onto moon, transforming it into a giant red orb.
Lunar eclipses usually come in no particular order, but sometimes the sequence is more orderly. When four lunar eclipses are all total, the series is called a tetrad.
This Saturday will be the third of four total eclipses in the 18-month long tetrad series. Previous eclipses occurred on April 15, 2014 and. Oct. 8, 2014. After Saturday, the next one is expected on Sept. 28, 2015. Such a closely-spaced succession of eclipses is a fairly rare occurrence.
Some Christians believe the blood moon lunar eclipse tetrad could be connected to Jesus’ return — or signify a world-changing event about to take place.
According to the King James Bible, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord comes,” (Joel 2:31).
Regardless of your religious beliefs, it will be a breathtaking spectacle you’ll want to wake up early to see. Just make sure to be outside no later than 4:58 a.m. PDT to watch the transition.
Or, watch NASA’s coverage live: