Lunar eclipses

The night a ‘blood Moon’ mysteriously disappeared

New research reveals surprises about the famous ‘black eclipse’ a thousand years ago  

A particularly dark total lunar eclipse on May 5 in the year 1110 coincided with the timing of major volcanic explosion, causing our satellite to completely disappear from view.

That’s the finding of a new scientific paper published recently, which reveals that a medieval observation of a “dark” total lunar eclipse was most probably caused by a dust veil over Europe in May 1110.

The evidence comes from sulfate deposits in ice cores from both Greenland and Antarctica—one of the largest sulfate deposition signals of the last millennium.

That ties-in with this description of a very dark total lunar eclipse that occurred on the completely clear night of May 5, 1110, reported in the Anglo Saxon Peterborough Chronicle: 

On the fifth night in the month of May appeared the moon shining bright in the evening, and afterwards by little and little its light diminished, so that, as soon as night came, it was so completely extinguished withal, that neither light, nor orb, nor anything at all of it was seen. And so it continued nearly until day, and then appeared shining full and bright.” 

Anglo Saxon Peterborough Chronicle, May 5, 1100

As reported on Forbes, ash from volcanic eruptions can have odd effects on Earth’s atmosphere, and cause a brightly colored sky during sunrise and sunset, or a pale sun or glowing clouds, as the fine volcanic ash particles scatter or reflect the sunlight. 

An effect known by eclipse-watchers is that the reported brightness of lunar eclipses can change dramatically as there are volcanic aerosols in the stratosphere.

A research team from the University of Geneva found that the year 1109 was characterized by a cooling of the temperature in the northern hemisphere by about 1 °C and harvest failures—both typical after massive volcanic explosions. 

Photo credit: Photo by Spaylia on Unsplash