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Lunar And Solar Eclipse Meanings In Different Cultures

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“The moon deserted her course and the sun at once veiled his beam threatening, no longer to give you light, if Cleon became general…” [8] This was the first western written record of the lunar eclipse by Aristophanes. Before that, people usually misunderstood it as some unnatural power controlled by witches or prediction of a city’s demise. The person who brought changes to the world was Christopher Columbus. He discovered and made a clear observation record when he was beached caravels. He used his hourglass, and recorded the time of how long it took (48 minutes). As for now, On January 31st, July 27th, and July 28th in 2018, you might see a moon with red instead of white. [10] As we all know, the reason for having white moon is that sunlight shines on the moon, thus reflect. As for the blood moon, it is a kind of special astronomical phenomena, which is professionally named as lunar eclipse. Lunar eclipse happens every six months. Consequently, when the moon gradually goes into the shadow of the earth, the sunlight will be blocked from the moon by the earth. In other words, the sunlight won’t achieve the moon. Hence, the moon will become dark and later return to its original color-white. In this paper, our group will introduce the lunar eclipse in six parts: formation, appearance, type of lunar eclipse, data in different regions, myths about lunar eclipse, western culture and eastern culture of lunar eclipse. We will search for the relative information in the academic websites, make a summary of the materials, give a complete and all-sided information of the lunar eclipse. In the legend about the eclipse, the blood moon spectacle is also very unique and famous. When the moon orbits to the special direction called the earth’s umbra, all the sunlight will be blocked by the earth. Nevertheless, some sunlight can still reach to the moon’s surface by the infraction of the earth’s atmosphere. Under the condition of infraction, the wavelength of red is least affected by the medium and the infraction effect, so the moon turns red ultimately. As I’ve said before, the most significant mythological representation of the blood moon is the portent of apocalypse. There’s a Christian saying, blood moon and dark sun (solar eclipse) is the precursor of the great and awesome day of “lord”. There’s also some prevailing stories of werewolf and vampires relating to blood moon.


Types of Lunar eclipse

Lunar eclipse is a special phenomenon. There are two types of lunar eclipse: total lunar eclipse and partial penumbral. First, the total lunar eclipse is formed when the moon, earth, and the sun are completely in a straight line, and the earth is in the middle. Consequently, we can see that the whole moon is all in in the shadow of the earth, and later turns in to completely red, gaining the nickname of blood moon. This is because the moon is partly covered by the Earth’s umbra. This phenomenon was given a professional term, Syzygy, a name from the Greek word for being paired together. The blood moon can be seen by naked eyes because Earth’s atmosphere bends sunlight and indirectly lights up the moon’s surface. [1] There are seven stages of the lunar eclipse, including Penumbral eclipse, Partial eclipse, Total eclipse, Maximum eclipse, Total eclipse, Partial eclipse, Penumbral eclipse. The whole process of formation may take from a few seconds to about 100 minutes.


People usually describe the lunar eclipse as bloody moon. While it has no special astronomical significance, the view in the sky is striking as the usually whiteish moon becomes red or ruddy-brown. [2] During a lunar eclipse, the Earth is passing between the Sun and the Moon, blocking the Sun’s rays. However, the Moon isn’t completely dark. What we see from Earth is the Moon slowly darkening and changing color over a few hours to an orange-red. While most of the sunlight is indeed blocked, some rays bent around the edge of Earth and reach the Moon’s surface. Earth’s atmosphere scatters the blue or green colors, but the orange and red colors reach our eyes. It’s similar to a sunset.[3]

Date of Occurrence

The rotation period of lunar is about 30 days, so the Earth will move to the middle of the Sun and lunar every month. However, this does not mean the lunar eclipse will happen every month because lunar may not move into the shadow of the Earth every time or lunar, the Earth and the Sun may not stay at a straight line. In most of the years, lunar eclipse will happen twice during the whole year. In some rare years, lunar eclipse can happen up to four times a year. For example, lunar eclipse happened four times in 2009 and will also happen four times in 2020. The longest total lunar eclipse happened in 2018 Jul 27 and it lasted for about one hour and forty-three minutes. The longest partial lunar eclipse will happen in 2021 Nov 19 and it will last for about three hours and twenty-eight minutes. [4]

The nearest lunar eclipse will happen on 2019 Jul 16 21:32 TD when the lunar eclipse is visible in South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, which means most of us can see the lunar eclipse this time. This is a partial lunar eclipse and will last for about three hours. [5]

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Western and Eastern Culture

In different culture, the lunar eclipse means different. Some are luckiness while others are jinxes. In addition, many culture think the lunar eclipse happens because one kind of animals is eating it: the sow in Egypt, jaguar in Maya and three legged toad in China. What’s more, for Mesopotamians, the moon is bit by seven demons. Most of the culture think the lunar eclipse is a bad omen except in India. For Hindus, they believe in the importance of bathing in the Ganges River following an eclipse because it will help to achieve salvation.[7] When people have no scientific observance on surroundings, they normally use supernatural power to explain it. This will later turn into different kinds of myths.


Cristoforo Columbus

In 1492, during his voyage, Columbus was stranded on the island of Hispaniola, Jamaica, for lack of fresh water and food, and asked the islanders for help. However, the local people were unwilling to feed the uninvited guests, which put the Columbus fleet in trouble. As it happened, Columbus predicted that a total lunar eclipse would occur soon, so he told the people on the island that if they did not provide the fleet with food and fresh water, God would be angry and darken the moon. The total lunar eclipse happened, the bright moonlight faded, the sky gradually darkened, and finally came to a dark. The indigenous people, who lacked scientific knowledge, were terrified of this. They soon brought food to Columbus and prayed that he would try to save the ‘disaster’. Columbus lost no time in saying that God had forgiven their ignorance. As the moon gradually recovered, a full moon finally reappeared, as if nothing had happened. So the simple aborigines on the island revered Columbus and provided them with the best food and the fleet survived.[6]

Athens fleet

According to records, in 413 B.C., the Syracuses and Athenians living in the southeast of Sicily in the Mediterranean fought. One day, the invading Athens fleet was ready to enter the enemy’s harbor as soon as possible, while the local army and people defending the city in the face of the strong enemy planned to withdraw. It was the night when the eclipse happened, and the Athenians thought that the eclipse had changed the attack date because of the disadvantage of the war. As a result, the Syracuses had time to strengthen their forces. Finally, the invading Athenian fleet was destroyed and defeated.[6]


In ancient China, there was a kind and filial son who named “Mulain”. However, his mother was a person with violent temper. One day, Mulian’s mother came up with a bad idea: make the monks eat the steamed breads with meat in side. As soon as Mulian knew that his mother would harm the monks, he ran to the temple to tell the monks about his mother’s conspiracy. On the next day, Mulian’s mother gave out the meat -steamed breads to the monks. Each monk took out the steamed breads with no meat which were prepared before Mulian’s mother arrived. Later, the meat-steamed breads were buried beneath the earth behind the temple. Unfortunately, the Jade Emperor in the sky learned about this and made Mulian’s mother go to the heal. Because Mulian was a filial son, he training every day and finally opened the door of the heal. Mulian’s mother was saved, but she was turned into a dog and still evil. She wanted the heaven and the earth turn into a world with no light, so she ran after the moon and ate it. However, the evil dog was afraid of drums and firecracker. Hence, the humans beat the drums and set off the firecrackers to drive of the evil dog. The evil dog was not reconciled. It chased the moon and tried to eat it, but every time the dog had just swallowed the moon, the evil dog had to spit it out because of the sounds of drums and fire crackers.[6]


After searching for various interpretations and definitions, the eclipse is no longer just a mystery in the eyes of the ancients, a phenomenon of religious nature, nor a scary sight that frightens children.[9] The phenomenon caused by the sunlight being obscured by the earth during the moon orbiting the earth becomes a magical and fascinating natural phenomenon with scientific nature. Nevertheless, the interesting and varied mythological definition about the eclipse did not go away. Tiangou still accidentally ‘swallowed’ its ‘plaything’ moon. In the countryside, there are still a few people who will light firecrackers to drive away “evil and ghosts” when they see an eclipse. But these just represent people’s rich imagination and yearning for mythological culture. In the modern society with highly developed science and technology, many people are fascinating with phenomenon like eclipses and solar eclipses with curiosity and appreciation. Many astronomers will even wait for eclipses with telescopes in the best viewing position long time before it exists. Human exploration of the universe will never end. Recently, photographs of the black hole have been shockingly exposed. Human’s spirits of perseverance will bring us to a much more profound region of universe exploration.

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Lunar And Solar Eclipse Meanings In Different Cultures. (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
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