Exactly when to watch the super blue blood moon

Long Lunch 31/01/2018

Three celestial events will occur simultaneously tonight in New Zealand for the first time since 1866.

The celestial spectacle will include a supermoon (a full moon while the Moon is closest to the Earth), a blue moon (the second full moon in the same calendar month), and finally - a total lunar eclipse, also known as a blood moon.  

Dr Claire Bretherton from Space Place Wellington joins Wendyl Nissen on The Long Lunch talking about this rare celestial event that some are calling a super blue blood moon eclipse.

Overall, the moon will be around 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual - and is expected to have a reddish tint.

The last time these events coincided was in 1866, 152 years ago.

While many assume that a “blood moon” will indeed be red, Dr Bretherton warns that its colour can be further influenced by factors like atmospheric conditions, volcanic activity or weather.

As long as you can see the moon you'll be able to see the eclipse.

“It’s always very difficult to predict what colour the moon is actually going to turn,” Dr Bretherton told RadioLIVE.

While the eclipse actually starts around 11:50pm. Dr Bretherton suggests waiting until 12:50am for the real spectacle.

“You’ll start to see a bite shape almost taken out of the moon,” she said, directing watchers to look out for the shape to slowly take over the moon until it’s a total lunar eclipse.

This is precisely when the moon should become blood red, with the totality phase of the eclipse expected to continue until just past 3am.

“As long as you can see the moon you'll be able to see the eclipse,” she said, but suggests finding a good spot facing North or Northwest for the best view.

The event will start during moonrise on Wednesday evening. The moon will move into the shadow of the Earth at 11:51pm NZT on January 31.

The alignment of the sun, moon and Earth will last one hour and 16 minutes, and the full eclipse will peak at 1:51am on February 1.

By 5am, the moon will be back in the full light of the sun.

Listen to the full interview with Dr Claire Bretherton above.

Afternoon Talk with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.