Fascinating myths about the lunar eclipse from around the world

Millions of people will have the opportunity to see a lunar eclipse – an event popularly known in the media as a “blood moon.”

During such an eclipse, the full moon moves into the shadow of the Earth cast by the sun, and is momentarily darkened. Some sunlight still reaches the moon, refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere, however, illuminating it with an ashen to dark red glow, the color depending on atmospheric conditions.

As a communicator of astronomy, the term “blood moon” is a major thorn in my side, since it suggests something other than a lunar eclipse and conjures images of a moon shimmering in crimson red colors, which is not at all accurate. But as a cultural astronomer, the phrase displays some of the interesting ways in which modern society creates its sky stories.

Lunar eclipses have fascinated cultures across the globe, and inspired several striking myths and legends, many of which portray the event as an omen. This is not surprising, since if anything interrupts the regular rhythms of the sun or moon it impacts strongly upon us and our lives.