'Super blue blood Moon eclipse' set to captivate Kiwis at end of month

It's being called a "super blue blood Moon eclipse", three separate celestial events set to occur simultaneously in one night on January 31, the first time this has happened in 152 years. 

Not only will the night sky reveal the third of a Supermoon trilogy that's occurred over the last two months, but a "blue Moon" and a total lunar eclipse will also occur on the same night, the first time this has happened since March 31, 1866.


The first of these events will be a Supermoon, the second of 2018, when a full Moon coincides with the closest the Moon gets to Earth during its orbit. 

During a Supermoon, the Moon appears about 14 per cent larger than a normal full Moon and around 30 per cent brighter. 

In reality, this isn't actually a drastic difference, says Stardome Observatory Planetarium in Auckland. However, when a Supermoon is close to the horizon, it appears even bigger, the planetarium explains. 

Blue Moon

The second celestial event on January 31 will be a "blue Moon", the term is used when two full Moons occur in a single calendar month.

Stardome says despite the phrase "once in a blue Moon" meaning something occurring infrequently, an actual blue Moon occurs about every two-and-a-half years.

This phenomenon happens due to the slight differences between calendar months and lunar phases. Each full Moon occurs every 29.5 days, however calendar months vary between 28 and 31 days. 

Blood Moon

The third celestial phenomena will be a total lunar eclipse, also known as a blood Moon, which happens when a full Moon, Earth and the Sun line up.

During a total lunar eclipse, Earth blocks any direct sunlight from reaching the Moon. The Sun is behind Earth, so it causes Earth's shadow to reflect on the Moon instead of the Sun's rays. 

The term "blood Moon" comes from the fact that when the Moon goes into Earth's shadow, the sunlight is passing though Earth's atmosphere and refracting onto the Moon, creating a blood-red colour across the lunar surface.

To celebrate what it's calling "this Moon-madness", Stardome in One Tree Hill Domain is hosting a special sighting event, staying open until 3am on February 1 February for people to witness all three lunar phenomena at the planetarium.

The supermoon shone 30 per cent brighter than the moon on an ordinary night. Source: 1 NEWS