Pacific sees a ‘Blood Moon’ rising

27 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

SYDNEY: Stargazers across the Pacific cast their eyes skyward on Wednesday to witness a rare “Super Blood Moon”, as the heavens aligned to bring a spectacular lunar eclipse, reports AFP.

The first total lunar eclipse in two years took place at the same time as the Moon was closest to Earth, in what astronomers say is a once-in-a-decade show.

Anyone living between Australia and the central United States was able to see an enormous, bright, orangey-red Moon if the skies were clear.

The main event took place between 1111 and 1125 GMT—late evening in Sydney and pre-dawn in Los Angeles—when the Moon was entirely in the Earth’s shadow.

The Moon darkened and turned red—a result of sunlight refracting off the Earth’s rim onto the lunar surface—basking our satellite in a sunrise- or sunset-tinged glow.

Unlike a solar eclipse, the phenomenon was safely visible to the naked eye.

This eclipse was different because it happened during a “Super Moon” when the Moon passes a mere 360,000 kilometres (225,000 miles) from Earth.

At that point, it can appear 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than at its farthest point—a difference of around 50,000 kilometres (30,000 miles).

In Sydney, where a crisp night gave onlookers a clear view, people gathered on the shoreline of the city’s harbour to catch a glimpse as the Moon rose over the sails of the Opera House.

“Last time there was a Super Moon, last month, we missed it,” Ken Loi, 50, said.

“This time it’s with the eclipse as well, so you’ve got a double whammy so you better catch it before it’s too late.”

“Interest has been high,” said Andrew Jacobs, curator of astronomy at Sydney Observatory, which hosted a viewing event with telescopes and expert speakers.

Australian airline Qantas performed a one-off, two-and-a-half-hour “Supermoon Scenic Flight” heading east from Sydney over the Pacific for an unobstructed view of the southern sky.

In Hong Kong however the view was partially obscured by cloud.

“It’s not as red as I thought. I saw a photo and the Moon was very red, but now it’s not that red,” said primary school student Chui Yiu-chun, who was trying to catch a glimpse from the city’s harbourfront.