Super blue blood moon: NZ to witness extremely rare event

  • 27/01/2018

Avid stargazers will be treated to a very unusual lunar event next week - a super blue blood moon.

The event, which Kiwis will be able to watch on Wednesday night, is the third of what NASA has dubbed the 'Supermoon Trilogy'.

Firstly, it'll be a super moon, which is the lunar event in which a full moon coincides with a close approach to Earth. It'll also be a blue moon, which is the second full moon in a calendar month.

Finally it'll also be a blood moon, which is a total eclipse that, with dimmed light passing through the Earth's atmosphere, gives the moon a red hue.

Each of those lunar events coinciding at once is extremely rare - so rare, in fact, that the last time it happened was 1866, 152 years ago.

The moon will move into the shadow of the Earth at 11:51pm on January 31, ahead of the full eclipse at 1:51am on February 1. By 5am, the moon will be back in the full light of the sun.

"We're seeing all of the Earth's sunrises and sunsets at that moment reflected from the surface of the moon," said Sarah Noble, NASA scientist.

Lunar eclipses happen about twice a year. Blue moons occur every two-and-a-half years.