Piedmont Region

Updated 12/23/10

In Podcast #41 the Trekkers meet in David’s backyard to observe a lunar eclipse.  A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon causing the Earth’s shadow to fall on the moon.  Lunar eclipses are amazing to watch, but this one was extra amazing.  This one happened on the winter solstice, which hasn’t happened since 1638.  That’s when Galileo was still alive and the colonists were just starting to settle our country.  Find out what causes a lunar eclipse; discover why the moon turns red; learn about different eclipse myths from around the world, and even get some tips on fire safety! Come on, let’s go trekkin’!

A lunar eclipse may have saved Christopher Columbus’ life.  In 1504, on his fourth voyage to the New World, Columbus’ ship was stranded on the island of Jamaica.  The American Indians were getting tired of providing his crew with food and were threatening to cut off their supplies.  Columbus had an idea.  He had a book that predicted a lunar eclipse would occur on February 29, 1504 (a leap year eclipse).  So he told the Indians that God was displeased with their behavior and would remove the moon from the sky that night.  When the Indians saw the moon slowly disappear and then turn blood red, just as Columbus said would happen, they were terrified and quickly resumed bringing him supplies. 

SOL Correlation:

3.1k The student will plan and conduct investigations in which k) natural events are sequenced chronologically.

3.8a The student will investigate and understand basic patterns and cycles occurring in nature.  Key concepts include a) patterns of natural events (day and night, seasonal changes, phases of the moon, and tides);

4.7a The student will investigate and understand the relationships among the Earth, moon, and sun.  Key concepts include

a) the motions of the Earth, moon, and sun (revolution and rotation);

d) historical contributions in understanding the Earth-moon-sun system.

Please be patient while the video loads... Read this while you wait!

Columbus predicts a lunar eclipse (Source)