SYDNEY: Stargazers across the Pacific cast their eyes skyward on Wednesday to witness a rare “Super Blood Moon”, as the heavens aligned to bring a spectacular lunar eclipse.
The first total lunar eclipse in two years took place at the same time as the Moon was closest to Earth, in what astronomers say is a once-in-a-decade show.
Anyone living between Australia and the central United States was able to see an enormous, bright, orangey-red Moon if the skies were clear.
The main event took place between 1111 and 1125 GMT — late evening in Sydney and pre-dawn in Los Angeles — when the Moon was entirely in the Earth’s shadow.
The Moon darkened and turned red — a result of sunlight refracting off the Earth’s rim onto the lunar surface — basking our satellite in a sunrise- or sunset-tinged glow.
Unlike a solar eclipse, the phenomenon was safely visible to the naked eye.
This eclipse was different because it happened during a “Super Moon” when the Moon passes a mere 360,000 kilometres (225,000 miles) from Earth.
At that point, it can appear 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than at its farthest point — a difference of around 50,000 kilometres (30,000 miles).
In Sydney, where a crisp night gave onlookers a clear view, people gathered on the shoreline of the city’s harbour to catch a glimpse as the Moon rose over the sails of the Opera House.
“Last time there was a Super Moon, last month, we missed it,” Ken Loi, 50, said.
“This time it’s with the eclipse as well, so you’ve got a double whammy so you better catch it before it’s too late.” “Interest has been high,” said Andrew Jacobs, curator of astronomy at Sydney Observatory, which hosted a viewing event with telescopes and expert speakers.
Australian airline Qantas performed a one-off, two-and-a-half-hour “Supermoon Scenic Flight” heading east from Sydney over the Pacific for an unobstructed view of the southern sky.