Good Friday 3 April AD 33 – Eclipses as Christ died on the Cross

This is definitely worth reposting.

The fellow who made the video about the Star of Bethlehem (a compelling argument, I might add), also did some research about what happened in the heavens on Good Friday.

Let’s break it down.

Passover begins on the 14th day of the Jewish lunar month of Nisan. Moreover, Passover begins at twilight, dividing 14 Nisan and 15 Nissan. The Gospels say the Lord was crucified on Preparation Day, a Friday.  14 Nisan 14 fell on a Friday Preparation Day, twice: 7 April AD 30 and 3 April AD 33.  Daniel in 444 BC prophesied (Daniel 9:21–26) that the Anointed one would be cut off in 476 years after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem: AD 33.

The Bible records that, at the time of the crucifixion and death of the Lord, there were signs, including a “blood moon” or lunar eclipse.

Only one Passover lunar eclipse was visible from Jerusalem while Pilate was in office. It occurred on 3 April 33.

On 3 April the Moon rose already in eclipse.  It rose the color of blood.  That means that the eclipse began before it rose, in the constellation of the Virgin (at the time of Christ’s birth there was a New Moon, in the constellation of the Virgin).

The eclipse started at 3 pm when Christ was breathing His last.

But remember that a lunar eclipse is a syzygy!

If there is an eclipse in one direction there is an eclipse in the other direction too.

If you were standing on the Moon during that syzygy of 3 April 33, you would see a total eclipse of the Sun.

The blotted Sun would be in the heart of the constellation of the Ram (cf. “the Lamb who was slain”).

You can try this out for yourselves.  Go to the online astronomy aid Starry Night.  HERE

Move your location to Jerusalem and then plug in the time of about 7 pm and date 3 April 33 and adjust your view to ESE.  You will see the Moon has just risen and there is a label for your Earth’s shadow.  The Moon had risen at about 6:30 pm in the totality of the eclipse. HERE



With the daylight turned off, and the horizon removed, and then looking at an angle down through the Earth below the horizon, at 3 pm, you see the Moon and Earth’s shadow converging in Virgo.


Then you can switch to the view from the Moon!

You must adjust your view a little and turn yourself right with a few clicks.  But you will find it.  In the screenshot, below, you can see where Earth and Sun are in Aries. Since the Earth would be larger in the Moon’s sky than in this screenshot, the Sun would be in total eclipse.  Adjust for UTC + 3 hours to the right time in Jerusalem from 1500 to 1800. HERE



In read around the question a little more, I find that, using different date calculators, there are some problems of the day of the week.  Also, there are arguments for dating the Crucifixion to 1 April 33.  If that is the case, then the phenomena described above occur on Easter Sunday.  Much hinges on which calendar the Lord and His disciples were using for their own Passover meal, if the last Supper was a Passover meal (Joseph Ratzinger argued that it was a related sacrificial meal but not a seder.)

Definitive?  Not quite.  But it is not to be discounted that God, from all Eternity knowing exactly what would happen, set the heaven’s in motion in so precise a way that its signs would help us to understand the mysteries taking place, which were in other ways foreshadowed.   In the sacraments (a term interchangable with “mystery” in many contexts), visible signs help us to understand that insensible graces and transformations are taking place.  If in the signs of the sacraments, why not too signs in the heavens?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Glennonite says:

    This stuff is riveting, Father. Thank you.

  2. Ages says:

    For whatever it’s worth — the Byzantine Synaxarion states that Easter Sunday was on March 25 (with AD 31 being the only possible year), and that Christ arose 36 hours after his death (spanning 3 days).

    May God grant us all a blessed Holy Saturday. “Arise, O God, and judge the earth, for You shall inherit all the nations!”

  3. albizzi says:

    Knowing with accuracy the place in the sky of the moon, the sun and a lot of stars since thousands of years through programmed computers is the best watch the human intelligence has built to give the date precisely of historical events.
    Once is so brightly explained the blood moon during the Passion and death of our Lord Jesus, it remains to explain how happened the darkness that fell on Earth between the 6th and the 9th hour when St Luke says that “the sun was darkened”.
    Some said that a solar eclipse happened, but we know that this is absurd since a solar and and a lunar eclipse cannot take place on the same day. In addition a solar eclipse cannot last for 3 hours long.
    Has anyone a theory ?

  4. THREEHEARTS says:

    Some years ago the BBC reported on a report and reasearch done by either Oxford, Cambridge or London University> They did soil research on a place in Jerusalem and found a soil disturbance that said the sun vanished on a certain day about three thousand years ago.

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    I love things like this. Thanks Fr. Z.!

  6. Wiktor says:

    I wonder if “year 1582 problem” (switching from Julian to Gregorian calendar) was taken into account in those calculations.

  7. St. Irenaeus says:

    Not only does Jesus fulfill the OT, he fulfills pagan mythology, and even the cosmos. All things hang together in him…

  8. EC says:

    It could also simply have been a “prophetic” event, like the miracle of the sun at Fatima… The experience of individuals was changed by a direct communication of God to the senses, without actually changing the thing (the sun) itself (99% of the world didn’t experience the sun moving all around, even some on location). If Good Friday was the 1st of April, 33, the red moon would come on Easter, which could be taken as a different kind of sign, though one would have to look into what those eclipses meant to people of the day to make any good sense of it. Just a thought.

  9. Persistant says:

    I love it when you write about these things!
    I have a question, how does this relate to what Ratzinger wrote in Jesus of Nazareth (Infancy Narratives), that Jesus was actually born some 6 years earlier then what was usually thought (so, Christ was born BC)? He argued that there was a mistake when in medieval times some monk calculated years passed since Jesus’ birth. If that’s true, then ut would mean Jesus either died in 27 AD, or he was 39 when he died. I’d like some clarification about this, thanks!

  10. Joe in Canada says:

    There is also the ancient (according to Cardinal Ratzinger) tradition that Christ died on March 25.

  11. Persistant says:

    Yes, there is also a special Jubilee in French city of Le Puy-en-Velay when Annunciation falls on Good Friday (like last year, it won’t happen again til 2157.

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: the sun darkening – Sunspots would do it. But so would atmospheric disturbances, angels doing some light warping, all sorts of things.

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