Briefing

Australians are about to get a prime view of a rare moon that hasn't appeared for more than 150 years

Image: CSIRO

If you were awestruck by the New Year’s Day super moon, hold onto your pants.

On January 31, around midnight, the full moon will not only be super, it will be a blue moon and a blood moon.

The blue moon comes as it will be the second full moon in a month. That happens every two and a half years, hence the saying “once in a blue moon”.

But wait, wait – these two celestial events will also coincide with a total lunar eclipse. And with the Earth in between the Sun and the moon, sunlight has to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere, which scatters the green to violet light more than it scatters the red light. So the moon appears red – a blood moon.

That’s three big moon moments on one glorious night for skywatchers, and the best place to see it, according to Space.com, will be in central and eastern Asia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia.

The last time all three events lined up this perfectly was more than 150 years ago. According to the Canon of Lunar Eclipses, the last time humans saw a total eclipse of a blue moon was March 31, 1866.

The US will miss out on the full spectacle as the eclipse will happen too close to the moon setting.

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