A super moon rising over Toronto in December. At midnight on Wednesday, Wairarapa people will get their chance to see an even rarer event. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES
A big bright moon with a long and curious name will be on show in the Wairarapa sky tonight.
But just how much of the “super blue blood moon eclipse” will actually be visible will depend on where you are in the region, and how much cloud is around at the key moment.
The rare lunar event will happen between midnight tonight and about 2.30am tomorrow, and is set to attract the attention of astronomers and stargazers all round the world.
The moon will be “super” because it is a full moon coinciding with being the closest it gets to Earth during its orbit.
A super moon appears about 14 per cent larger than a normal full moon and around 30 per cent brighter.
The term blue moon is used when two full moons occur in a single calendar month.
The third phenomenon to occur will be a total lunar eclipse, also known as a blood moon.
This happens when a full moon, Earth and the sun line up.
When the moon goes into Earth’s shadow, sunlight passing through our atmosphere refracts onto the moon, creating a blood-red colour across the lunar surface.
The last time such a celestial trifecta of “super”, “blue”, and “blood” moons occurred was in March, 1866.
Richard Hall, of Carterton’s Stonehenge Aotearoa, said technically for us in New Zealand it wasn’t a blue moon, as it was taking place in the early hours of Thursday — rather than Wednesday — which means it will take place in February, not January.
But, technicality aside, it would still make for an impressive sight, he said.
“For those wanting to take some photos it will be spectacular, it’s just not at a very convenient time.”
Metservice meteorologist Lisa Murray said the forecast was for developing cloud on Wednesday evening, “which is not ideal” for moon viewing.
Southern Wairarapa was most likely to be affected by the cloud cover.
She said north of Masterton — and into the Tararua District — was likely to be people’s best bet for a clear view.
Temperatures between midnight Wednesday and 3am Thursday were likely to be around 17-18 degrees Celsius.
Lunar eclipses, unlike their solar equivalents, are completely fine to view with the naked eye.
How to shoot the moon
Experienced night photographer Mark Gee said there were some simple tips for taking great shots.
These included shooting on your camera’s manual mode, so you could be sure to “expose to the moon itself”, and using the largest zoom you had.
Using a tripod to stabilise the shot was also very important — particularly while zoomed in — to reduce movement while taking long exposure snaps.
“Be prepared and plan your shot, and have fun,” he said, adding that were apps available that could help you with getting the perfect shot.