If we take 33AD as the year of Jesus’ crucifixion, on the day that He was crucified we find a lunar eclipse occurring at sunset just as the Passover begins. But what if we’re wrong about 33AD? Were there Passover lunar eclipses in other years that could also be considered as possible dates of His crucifixion?
Looking to eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEcat5/LE0001-0100.html for eclipse dates, and to www.torahcalendar.com/MOON.asp for Hebrew calendar correlations, here are the lunar eclipses which occurred in March or April of the years surrounding 33AD:
Fri 26 Mar 0023 – Penumbral only; Nisan full moon. Passover begins at sunset Thu 25 Mar.
Sat 24 Apr 0023 – Penumbral only; Iyyar full moon, a month after Passover.
Tue 14 Mar 0024 – Partial; Adar full moon, a month before Passover.
Sat 3 Mar 0025 – Total; Adar full moon, a month before Passover.
Wed 25 Apr 0031 – Partial; Iyyar full moon, a month after Passover.
Mon 14 Apr 0032 – Total; Nisan full moon. Passover begins at sunset Mon 14 Apr.
Fri 3 Apr 0033 – Partial; Nisan full moon. Passover begins at sunset Fri 3 Apr.
Tue 23 Mar 0034 – Penumbral only; Nisan full moon. Passover begins at sunset Wed 24 Mar.
Wed 5 Apr 0041 – Penumbral only; Nisan full moon. Passover begins at sunset Tue 4 Apr.
Sun 25 Mar 0042 – Partial; Nisan full moon. Passover begins at sunset Sun 25 Mar.
Thu 14 Mar 0043 – Total; Adar full moon, a month minus a day before Passover.
Mon 2 Mar 0044 – Partial; Adar full moon, a month and a day before Passover.
This is a wider range of years than really needed, but helps to show a general pattern, that a group of eclipses shows up at the right time of year for Passover every 9 years or so. In marginal cases the month beginnings as placed by TorahCalendar could possibly be a day off from the actual, and the year beginnings could possibly be a month off from the actual. The day of the week on the other hand is fixed, not subject to differing interpretations. The years 26-36AD are the ones that would match up with Pilate being in office, so that excludes the first and third groups, leaving just the four bolded eclipse dates to look at more closely.
TorahCalendar.com has chosen Wed 24 Mar 34AD as the date of crucifixion.
BethlehemStar.net has chosen Fri 3 Apr 33AD as the date of crucifixion.
Being a total eclipse, Mon 14 Apr 32AD looks compelling.
Looking closer now at the these four possible eclipses:
Wed 25 Apr 0031, maximum partial eclipse at 10:12pm Jerusalem time after Delta T correction. The partial eclipse would have been visible about 9:11 to 11:13pm. The penumbral eclipse, if visible, would have been from 7:56pm to 12:28am (of 26 Apr). The placement in the constellations doesn’t look meaningful, but about one day prior to this the moon was at the feet of Virgo. According to TorahCalendar this is in the second Hebrew month rather than the first, so it’s not a Passover moon. TorahCalendar is likely correct in this, because 25 April would be unusually late for Passover.
Mon 14 Apr 0032, maximum total eclipse at 11:06am Jerusalem time after Delta T correction. Total span of eclipse including penumbral would have been 8:14am to 1:58pm, while the moon was below the horizon. So none of this eclipse was visible from Jerusalem.
Fri 3 Apr 0033, maximum partial eclipse at 4:48pm Jerusalem time after Delta T correction. The partial eclipse would have been visible about 3:23 to 6:13pm. The penumbral eclipse, if visible, would have been from 2:02 to 7:34pm. The placement in the constellations is at the feet of Virgo.
Tue 23 Mar 0034, maximum penumbral eclipse at 5:14pm Jerusalem time after Delta T correction. The penumbral eclipse, if visible, would have been from 3:52 to 6:36pm. This eclipse occurred not on Passover but the day before. If this were a marginal case it would be possible that it actually was on Passover, and that TorahCalendar started the month a day later than actual. But this doesn’t appear to be a marginal case. Placement in the constellations – on the following day, Passover, it’s at the feet of Virgo.
Conclusion: The blood moon that Peter talked about in Acts 2 can’t have been the total eclipse of 32AD since that wasn’t visible from Jerusalem. It wasn’t likely the eclipse of 31AD because this occurred a month after Passover. The eclipse of 34AD seems like a vague possibility, but it’s not the clean match that 33AD is.