Stargazers across the Asia Pacific and the Americas will have a rare chance on Wednesday to observe a “Super Flower Blood Moon” – an enormous orange-red moon that astronomers say will be a once-in-a-decade show.
The super moon is the result of the first total lunar eclipse in more than two years taking place at the same time as the moon is closest to Earth.
The eclipse is due to start from 08:47 GMT and the moon is expected to be entirely in the earth’s shadow between 11:11 and 11:26 GMT – evening in the Asia Pacific and before dawn in the Americas.
The moon will darken and turn red, the result of sunlight refracting through the Earth’s atmosphere. Experts say the colour varies with each eclipse and the more dust or clouds in Earth’s atmosphere the redder the moon will appear.
Unlike a solar eclipse, the phenomenon will be safely visible to the naked eye. During a Super Moon, the moon is closest to Earth, at a distance of just 360,000 kilometres (225,000 miles).
At that point, it can appear 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than at its farthest point – a difference of approximately 50,000km (30,000 miles). May’s full moon is known as the Flower Moon since it occurs when spring flowers are in bloom.
“Interest has been high,” Andrew Jacobs, a curator of astronomy at Sydney Observatory, told the AFP news agency. Jacobs is hosting a Covid-19 safe viewing event with telescopes and expert speakers. “I’m expecting a clear night.” The event will also be live-streamed and 20,000 users have already registered.
For those wanting to see the event in person, Jacobs predicted the best view will be in “Australia, New Zealand, and large parts of the Pacific. New Guinea also gets a good view.”
“The Americas see it in the early morning, but they don’t necessarily see all parts of the eclipse,” he said.
According to NASA’s Bill Cooke: “Folks in Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands will get to see the entirety of this eclipse – it will be quite a show for them.”
The next Super Blood Moon is expected to take place in 2033.