April 14, 2014 at 10:35 AM ET
Beware: The blood moon is nigh! Or don't beware. There's really no need to worry. The phrase just refers to a rare total lunar eclipse that happens when Mars, Earth and the sun all line up just so, like the event due to hit the night sky April 15. In fact, it's just the first of four such events to hit the heavens over the next year and a half — a real rarity.
But if it seems like you've heard the phrase "blood moon" before — outside of astronomical circles — you likely have. That's because the blood moon is sort of a star, at least on the big and small screens.
Bye, moon! Hello, trouble!
The blood moon played a pivotal part in an episode from the 2013 freshman season of "Sleepy Hollow." The leader of a coven of dark witches, known as Serilda of Abaddon, needed only to gather a few items (including the ashes of a particular foe's decedent) to perform a resurrection ritual. But it all had to take place at the "turn of the blood moon." Of course, total lunar eclipses are all about timing, and Serilda's timing wasn't so good (at least when Ichabod Crane lobbed a torch her way).
A 2010 episode of "CSI" took its title from the lunar event, but the plot veered wildly from the actual eclipse. Instead, the mundane science of crime scene investigation got a shakeup thanks to blood and moon-loving vampires and werewolves.
The big, bad blood moon
"Red Riding Hood" saw Amanda Seyfried take on the part of the title fairy-tale character in 2011, but the classic story took a twist. In this version of the tale, all heck breaks loose during Blood Moon Week, which ushered in lunar madness — and big, bad wolves.
What a jump
But not all blood moon mentions have been so recent. Back in 1975, the sci-fi adventure show "Quantum Leap" saw leading man Sam leap straight into a coffin in time for a blood moon sacrifice. It seems in this instance, the blood moon didn't mean the sky would dim, but it did signify a big event for the local vampire population — a sacrifice.
If you want see the real blood moon for yourself, tune in to the night sky in the very early hours of April 15.