Whether you call it a super moon, blood moon or Super Blood Blue Moon, Wednesday's total lunar eclipse is going to be spectacular. Earthlings haven't seen a celestial event like this in nearly 150 Years - and Australians have one of the best seats in the world! Here's what you need to know for an optimum viewing experience in each state and territory.
What the hell is a blue moon?
Wednesday's blue moon isn't actually blue - so don't loudly complain about the colour to fellow stargazers or you'll look like a total berk. Blue moons are an "extra" 13th full moon that occur every two to three years on average.
Why should you be excited about this one?
The reason people are psyched for this year's blue moon is that it happens to coincide with a total lunar eclipse. The last time this happened in the US was all the way back in March 31, 1866 while Australians haven't seen one for 35 years.
Unlike last year's total solar eclipse, the super blood blue moon is best viewed from the Southern Hemisphere, with Australia, New Zealand and eastern Asia being in prime position. (Most of North and South America will only catch the tail end of the eclipse. Tough break, guys.)
“Unlike most of the world, we will be able to see the eclipse from beginning to end,” says astrobiologist Charley Lineweaver, an Australian National University Associate Professor. “Another perk of this celestial show is that the earth’s shadow will not pass over any old full Moon, rather, it will pass over a super Moon — it will be closer and brighter than usual."
In fact, you could say an event like this only comes around once in a bl-[You're fired - Ed.]
When To Watch The Super Blood Blue Moon In Australia
Wednesday's total lunar eclipse occurs at different times depending on your location within Australia. (A lunar eclipse occurs at the same moment for every location on Earth, so the differences in time depend only on the local timezone.)
For most Australians, the eclipse will occur a few hours after sunset, so there's no need to get up at an ungodly hour - hurrah! With that said, some Aussies will need to stay up past 2am if they want to watch the whole thing. Western Australians get to head outside a little earlier, with the eclipse set to start at 7:48pm.
Here are the times you need to mark in your calendar for each state and territory:
|State/Time Zone||Eclipse Start||Totality Start||Totality End||Eclipse End|
|NSW (AEDT)||10:48pm||11:52pm||1:08am (Feb 1)||2:11am(Feb 1)|
|Victoria (AEDT)||10:48pm||11:52pm||1:08am (Feb 1)||2:11am(Feb 1)|
|Queensland (AEST)||9:48pm||10:52pm||12:08am (Feb 1)||1:41am (Feb 1)|
|South Australia (ACDT)||10:18pm||11:22pm||12:38am (Feb 1)||1:11am (Feb 1)|
|Western Australia (AWST)||7:48pm||8:52pm||10:08pm||11:11pm|
|ACT (AEDT)||10:48pm||11:52pm||1:08am (Feb 1)||2:11am(Feb 1)|
|Tasmania (AEDT)||10:48pm||11:52pm||1:08am (Feb 1)||2:11am(Feb 1)|
|Northern Territory (ACST)||9:18pm||10:22pm||11:38pm||12:41am (Feb 1)|
A total lunar eclipse will occur on Wednesday, January 31, and Australia is in the perfect position to see it. But it’s also being called many other lunar things, from a Blood Moon to a Blue Moon and a Super Moon.
So what is really going to happen on the night? We explain everything you need to know.
Lunar eclipse viewing tips
Unlike a solar eclipse, you don't need to worry about safety glasses or other special equipment: it's perfectly safe to observe with the naked eye. To watch the eclipse, simply head outdoors prior to the start phase and look for a big arse moon. Naturally, visibility will depend on the weather so pray to Artemis for clear skies. (See more below.)
An event like this is best viewed with others. A number of planetariums and observatories around the country are running eclipse events - click here to see if any are being hosted in your area.
Super Blood Blue Moon photography tips
If you're planning to take a bunch of photos for posterity, we recommend using more than a smartphone - especially if you want to make some prints. A few years ago, we ran a post advising people on the best way to photograph fireworks, and many of those tips are equally applicable to photographing an eclipse. Here's a brief summary:
- Use a tripod for maximum stability. The effect of the eclipse will be lost if there's any camera shake. You're not photographing a fast-moving object, so a tripod isn't a restriction.
- Use a remote control/trigger if possible. Again, this improves image stability.
- Think about image composition and choose a good location. If you don't have an SLR, chances are you won't be able to do a detailed close-up, so you'll have a wide-angle shot with the eclipse as a main feature. Choose a location which adds interest but doesn't detract from the eclipse; avoid having red cars, signs or buildings in shot, for example..
- Switch off the flash. The moon is (very roughly) 400,000 kilometres away from the earth, so your flash is only going to be a hindrance.
- Take lots of pictures! Your best shots may not be evident on a small viewfinder; take lots of shots and check them on a large monitor later.
For best results, use a DSLR or a good compact camera with spot metering and manual control over aperture and shutter speeds. You should also try under exposing your image to bring out more detail in the moon. You can read a bunch of additional lunar eclipse photography tips here.
What about the rain?
Sadly (some would say typically), rainy weather is forecast for much of Australia on Wednesday. This means there's a chance thick clouds will spoil the show. But don't despair: You can watch a livestream of the eclipse via The Virtual Telescope Project. Better than nothing, right?
You can also catch a live stream below: