Other heavenly events will occur later this month, including a meteor shower in late April and another caused by Halley's Comet in early May, Murphy said.
Meteor showers are created when comets or other objects pass through Earth's orbit.
"It's a bit like Earth moving through a tube of dust."
Lunar eclipse occurs Tuesday morning, to return in October
LAS CRUCES >> Watch the moon transform from a silverly globe to blood red tonight as a lunar eclipse will be visible in the Western Hemisphere.
The event is the first of four total lunar eclipses, called a tetrad, to occur over North and South America throughout the next 18 months.
At around 1:45 a.m. Tuesday, the moon will move entirely into Earth's shadow transforming into a blood red color.
The moon normally appears silvery because it reflects the sun's rays, but Earth and its shadow will block the sun's light from reaching the moon during the eclipse.
Yet light will still reach the moon, New Mexico State University astronomy associate professor Jim Murphy said. Red light rays are most likely to make it through Earth's atmosphere to the moon, creating the bloody color, he said.
New Mexicans need only step outside in the early morning to view tonight's eclipse.
"You don't need to be at a telescope to appreciate this," Murphy said. "It's going to be really high in the sky for us. It's positioned really well."
For those in search of a closer view, the NMSU Astronomy Department will host a viewing party at 10 p.m. tonight at Tombaugh Observatory. The event will begin with a short presentation, followed by telescope viewing of several planets, according to the department's Web page.
The moon will enter the deepest part of the Earth's shadow at around midnight, then will be totally eclipsed from about 1 to 2 a.m.
The NMSU event will conclude at 2 a.m., though the eclipse will continue until nearly 2:30 a.m.
A tetrad, isn't uncommon, likely occurring every hundred years, Murphy said.
The next lunar eclipse in the series will be in October, then April and September 2015.
"All four will be visible in one fashion or another," Murphy said.
The lunar eclipse comes on the heels of a flash of light seen blazing across the sky Saturday night.
The event had many on social media jokingly referencing aliens or the fall of the moon.
"The sky lit up bluish green then a very large fire came out of the middle of it," Melanie Gallegos Shepherd wrote on the Sun-News Facebook page. "We thought it was close. It seemed quite large but beautiful."
The flash of light was actually a meteoroid falling through Earth's atmosphere, Murphy said.
"Some object that had been minding its own business orbiting around the sun, happened to encounter the Earth's atmosphere," he said.
The friction created as the object passed through the atmosphere led to the initial stream of light, he said.
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