AUSTRALIANS are set for a triple treat on Wednesday when three lunar events collide for the first time in more than 30 years.
Late on Wednesday night, stargazers in some parts of the country will be able to feast their eyes on a total lunar eclipse, coinciding with both a supermoon and a blue moon.
None of these events is particularly rare in isolation, but having them all occur at the same time certainly is.
The last time it happened in Australia was December 30, 1983, the same year Bob Hawke was elected prime minister. In other parts of the world, it’s been more like 150 years.
Here’s what stargazers are in for later this week:
TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE:
From late on Wednesday night, when the moon is full, it will slide entirely into the earth’s shadow.
This will turn the moon a brooding, dark red due to light being bent or refracted onto its surface by the earth’s atmosphere. This effect is commonly referred to as a blood moon.
Australians can witness a total lunar eclipse about once every 2.8 years, on average. But here’s where the super moon and the blue moon come in and elevate this lunar event to a true rarity.
Wednesday night will also be a supermoon, when the full moon will be closest to the earth on its orbital journey – a mere 360,198km away.
In some parts of Australia, Wednesday night’s full moon will also be a blue moon, which has nothing to do with the colour blue.
A blue moon is simply the second full moon in any calendar month.
WHEN TO VIEW THE TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE:
Totality begins 8.51pm, ends 10.08pm