New Zealanders lucky enough to have been under clear skies overnight watched a blue moon turn into a rare ’super blood moon’.
Between 1am and 4am the moon passed through Earth’s shadow, first causing a total eclipse and then giving it a reddish tint, also known as a ’blood moon’. The reddish tint is caused by light being bent in the atmosphere.
The eclipse was visible from the western United States and Canada across the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand Australia and China - wherever there were clear skies - as well as northern polar regions.
In Tauranga, photographer Amit Kamble battled sleep and clouds to capture some shots of the Super blue blood moon.
Above are the best five images from a roughly 3.5 hour "Cloud-Lapse".
"Ok, What’s so special about this lunar eclipse?: 1) It’s a Super Moon: This is when the moon is at it’s closest to the earth.
"2) It’s a Blue Moon: This is when there is a 2nd full moon in the same month. Ever heard the phrase "Once in a blue moon"?
"3) It’s a Blood Moon: A total lunar eclipse is referred as a blood moon, due to the colour’s resemblance when the moon is in earth’s shadow.
"You put it all together and you get a Super Blue Blood Moon," says Amit.
Blood moon at 2am in Tauranga. Photo: Bridget London.
Astronomers use the term ’blue moon’ because of the rarity of a second full moon occurring in a month - as is the case in North America where it was still 31 January. The small technicality of Pacific time zones meant that in New Zealand it tipped a few hours into February.
Some New Zealanders around the country managed to catch a glimpse.
Although some others were disappointed and weren’t able to see the moon because of the cloudy skies.
The overlap of a blue moon with a lunar eclipse while the moon is at its closest approach to the earth is the first such celestial triple bill since 1982, said Noah Petro, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre. A blue moon occurs every two-and-a-half years or so - but it’s very unusual that it falls in conjunction with the ’super blood’ moon.
Noah Petro said the eclipse was also a scientific opportunity for researchers in Hawaii, who would study what happens to the moon’s surface when it quickly drops from 100°C in sunlight to minus 153°C in darkness. The speed of cooling can show what the surface is made of, such as rock or dust, he said.
LIVE NOW: #LunarEclipse2018! The Earth is directly between the Sun and Moon, making the lunar surface appear red. You can watch views of the #SuperBlueBloodMoon from multiple telescopes live online! Take a look: https://t.co/r6X6SoMfLn pic.twitter.com/TBtNOKd5Yw— NASA (@NASA) January 31, 2018
Additional reporting by RNZ.