Signs in the Heavens? Blood Red Skies in China and the 'Super Flower Blood Moon'

Unique weather conditions in China's port city of Zhoushan caused the sky to turn blood-red earlier this week, leaving many of the city's residents wondering if the end of the world had come.

A sense of panic could be heard in the voices of some of the residents as they recorded the eerie phenomenon, which was seen under thick layers of fog, according to The Daily Mail.

Others thought the red sky was an evil omen for China.

The crimson sky quickly became one of the trending topics on Chinese social media as videos of the event garnered tens of millions of views.

Some users on Douyin, China's version of TikTok, called the red sky a bad omen over China's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Mail reported. COVID has recently resurged in the neighboring city of Shanghai where new extreme lockdowns were implemented.

One user said it means "Accidents will happen," with another adding, "I started to stock up on supplies."

Chinese local media later said the blood-red sky was caused by refraction of the lights from fishing boats.

"When weather conditions are good, more water in the atmosphere forms aerosols which refract and scatter the light of fishing boats and create the red sky seen by the public," said the staff of the Zhoushan Meteorological Bureau, according to the Global Times.

Other users suggested the rare occurrence could have been caused by particulate matter still in the atmosphere from the Tonga volcanic eruption in January. NASA has found that the Tonga eruption's effects even reached space.

Another video shared by a user who was farther away from the port shows it was not the entire sky over the city that was red but only the part that was beneath the fog layer.

Historians have found 300-year-old documents from China, Korea and Japan that contain eyewitness accounts of a similar event. According to the accounts, in September of 1770, the skies over the region glowed red and the event continued for more than a week.

Researchers studying the event told Live Science in 2017 that they theorized the red skies were caused by a giant geomagnetic storm that rivaled the most powerful one on record, the so-called Carrington Event of 1859.

The article explained such magnetic storms happen when solar eruptions hit the Earth's magnetosphere, the shell of electrically charged particles trapped by Earth's magnetic field. The researchers speculated that if a Carrington-level solar storm would hit Earth today, the resulting hit to power grids around the world would be devastating, leaving most people without electricity.

In Israel, commentators who heard about the latest blood-red skies in China brought up a familiar biblical reference. During historic events like this, Bible scholars often point to the Book of Joel in the Old Testament where a verse describes "blood and fire and pillars of smoke" in the skies.

Joel 2:30-31 (NRSVA) reads, "I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD [Hashem] comes."

"Blood Moon" to Be Seen This Weekend Across the U.S.

Meanwhile, in the United States, amateur astronomers and other skywatchers will witness the first lunar eclipse of 2022 early Monday morning or late Sunday evening depending on your time zone.

According to NASA, the full moon will appear red in both North and South America and Europe and Africa as part of a total lunar eclipse on May 15-16. A lunar eclipse is caused by the moon going through Earth's shadow in space.

It will begin approximately at 9:32 p.m. Eastern time on May 15. The greatest part of the eclipse will be seen around 12:12 a.m. Eastern. The totality of this eclipse will last 1 hour and 24 minutes.

Some are calling this event a "super flower blood moon."

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