The blood-red full moon – caused by a new moon making its closest approach to the Earth combined with a total lunar eclipse – has happened only five times since 1900.
What is more, the impending “blood moon” will be the last in a sequence of four in a row occurring at six-monthly intervals on biblical feast days – a so-called “biblical tetrad”.
Throughout history, these incredibly rare events have been associated with major global events and disasters.
And for devout followers of religion the latest episode, coming soon after a solar eclipse in March, could signal the end is nigh.
In the Bible’s Book of Joel, it is written: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord comes.”
John Hagee, a pastor and author from Texas who has written a book about the blood moon phenomenon, claims biblical tetrads have only occurred a few times in 2,000 years – and always in conjunction with a significant religious event.
The 1493 tetrad was marked by the expulsion of the Jews by the Catholic Spanish Inquisition, in 1949 another came at the same time as the establishment of the state of Israel and in 1967 the tetrad coincided with the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War.
Conspiracy theories have been fuelled by Mormon author Julie Rowe, who has written in several novels that the forthcoming blood moon is a sign of an upcoming apocalypse.
In Utah, stores stocking 72-hour emergency survival kits have been selling out in recent weeks to “preppers”, who fear the end really is nigh, the Salt Lake Tribune has reported.
However, while lunar tetrads can be rare – there were none between 1600 and 1900 – NASA says the pattern is largely random and there will be eight in the 21st century.
Encouragingly for those who hope the End of Days is still some way off, NASA scientist Noah Petro said earlier this month: “The only thing that will happen on Earth during an eclipse is that people will wake up the next morning with neck pain because they spent the night looking up.”