Thomas Hockey:An open query: The "blood red" Moon in the New Testament book of Acts has been interpreted as the eclipse of 3 April 33 and has been used to date the crucifixion. Walter Maunder does not write of this event in his 1908 /Astronomy of the Bible/. Frantisek Link mentions it casually in his 1969 /Eclipse Phenomena in Astronomy/. When did this controversial idea first appear, and under what circumstances?
Terry Moseley: I think that there's some confusion here. The relevant part in Acts 2, verses 19-20, refers not to an eclipse on the date of the crucifixion, but to signs that it is claimed will be observed before the prophesied "Second Coming".
"19. And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke.
20. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come".
So if v 20 refers to eclipses of the sun and moon, there have been thousands of each since the death of Jesus, and I would venture to suggest that we will see many many more, though that may be straying slightly off topic!
You may be thinking of other references to a possible eclipse which have been used to try to determine the date of the crucifiction -
Matthew 27, v 45: "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness all over the land until about the ninth hour." As we all know, the period of noticeable darkness in even the longest TSE does not exceed even one hour.
A similar account is given in Mark 15, v. 33.
Luke 23 gives a slightly, but significantly, different version:
"v 44. And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness all over the earth until the ninth hour.
v. 45. And the sun was darkened and the veil of the temple was rent in the middle."
The significant differences are (1) the reference to "darkness all over the earth", implying that it was not just a local phenomenon - although how local is local? and (2) "the sun was darkened". As umbraphiles, our first interpretation might be an eclipse, but of course it could just as easily be interpreted as a very thick low overcast cloud - which would fit the long duration much better. And once again, no eclipse is dark for 3 hours.
John does not make any reference to any darkening at that time.
Further, none of the accounts actually refers to an eclipse as such - and if there was a total or near total eclipse at the time, one might expect a more specific reference to it.
Going back to the lunar eclipse of 3 April 33 CE, that was only a 58% partial in any case, and it wasn't even all visible from that location, with the Moon being 12 degrees below the horizon at mid-eclipse!
If we take the other references above as referring to a solar eclipse on the day of the crucifixion, the only options at around that date are 2 annulars, both of which had a phase of only about 25% in Palestine: CE 33, Sep 12; and CE 35, Sep 01. Neither would have lasted for about 3 hours, and neither would have produced any noticeable sky darkening.
No other solar eclipses above a magnitude of a few percent were visible from that area from CE 30 through to the end of CE 35.
The most likely candidate for a solar eclipse at around that period is a TSE on CE 29, on 24 November. It was total in Damascus, and the magnitude would have been about 97% in the Jerusalem area. Maximum eclipse was at about 09.00, and the sun's altitude at maximum about 37 degrees.
So that would have definitely been noticeable, but once again, significant darkness does not occur for any more than about an hour, centred on mid-eclipse.