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Super blue blood moon: When and where to see it

Chris Honnery, The Courier-Mail

 

TO say it happens just once in a blue moon in an understatement. In fact Wednesday’s triple treat phenomenon of a blue moon, ‘super’ moon and total lunar eclipse happens just once every 150 years and Queenslanders are in the best position to see all three occur at once.

So, what is it exactly?

Swinburne University astronomy expert associate professor Alan Duffy said the rare event is just a combination of three lunar events all happening at the same time.

“As (it’s) the second full moon in a month, it becomes known as a ‘blue moon’,” he said.

“Hence the expression of a rare event as (being) ‘once in a blue moon’, but really that’s once every two and a half years so not that rare.

“It’s also a ‘super’ moon, as the full moon occurs during a relatively close approach (perigee) which can be 50,000km closer than the furthest point (apogee) making it both appear larger (by about 14 per cent) and brighter (by some 30 per cent).”

Basically, the moon will look a lot bigger in the sky than it typically does.

“Finally, it’s a ‘blood moon’ because it is a lunar eclipse, when the moon travels into the Earth’s shadow,” Mr Duffy said.

“A shadow creeps across the face of the bright full moon, but thanks to our atmosphere some sunlight is bent (or refracted) towards the moon, illuminating it in a blood red colour.

“A nicer way to think of this is that all of the sunsets and sunrises of Earth are shining on to the moon that is now reflecting that light back.”

On Wednesday, a super moon, blue moon and a lunar eclipse will coincide. Picture: AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File

When can I see this ‘super blue blood moon’?

Associate professor Duffy said there will be several times on Wednesday to capture the phenomenon.

“The best time to see the super moon is when it rises above the horizon and thanks to a psychological trick known as the moon illusion,” he said.

“It will appear larger close to the ground than it does later on in the night when it’s higher.

“Stand with your back to the setting sun and watch as the moon rises in front of you.”

He said the moon will then turn red later in the night.

“The eclipse will be visible later at night,” he said.

“For Brisbane, the shadow of the Earth will pass in front of the moon from 8.51pm. Then at 9.48pm, we will see the red colour begin to illuminate the darkened moon and from 10.51pm to 12.07am it will be completely blood red.”

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Lachlan Stoney said cloud cover could impede viewing of the super blue blood moon.

“Brisbane is in for a mostly sunny day (on Wednesday) but partly cloudy conditions in the night,” he said.

“The Gold Coast is very similar to Brisbane.

“(But in) Townsville, the night time should be reasonably clear.”

Super moon: Best viewing at moonrise (6.26pm)

Lunar eclipse (blood moon): Reddish tinge from 9.48pm, completely blood red from 10.51pm to 12.07am

Best places to see it in Brisbane: Mt Coot-tha, Mount Gravatt

Regional Queensland: Anywhere - because of less light pollution and clear conditions

 

This article was originally posted to The Courier Mail