9 Oct 2014

Blood Moon doesn't dazzle everyone

3:26 pm on 9 October 2014

Last night's total lunar eclipse offered up some extraordinary sights for many in the South Island but, as predicted, not everyone in the north got to see the famed 'Blood Moon'.

How Wednesday night's full lunar eclipse looked from the South Island.

How Wednesday night's full lunar eclipse looked from the South Island. Photo: Ian Griffin

About 500 people turned up at Auckland's Stardome Observatory hoping to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon when the Earth, moon and sun are perfectly aligned.

But spokesperson John Rowe said the murky weather meant they were, for the most part, out of luck.

"Our enemy was the cloud last night, unfortunately. We were having just optical telescopes, we did have a live feed from elsewhere so it could be viewed but there's nothing like seeing it out in the fresh air.

"We did have a few breaks in the cloud and you could just make out that redness. It was usually just for a few seconds at a time, but a cheer went up from people when it happened, it was pretty impressive."

Mr Rowe believed people were so interested in the Blood Moon's late-night copper tones because it does not occur often and said it looks "unusual" and "spooky".

"I just wish we were able to be in a different part of the country where there was no cloud - but having said that we had a good night, it was a good crowd and good vibe."

Capital also out of luck

Haritina Mogosanu, from the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand, tried without success from Wellington to see the moon's temporary red tint.

"I tried to look out the window last night and it was just clouds, but that's usual in Wellington when there's an event lately, we have mostly clouds.

"Lunar eclipses are very exciting because if we go back in history, this is how people figured out that the earth is round. The shadow of the earth is curved and that's how they could tell the earth is round and I think for me that is a fantastic discovery."

People in New Zealand won't get to see another Blood Moon until January 2018. The eclipse was the second this year, and the weather also scuppered the event for many people in April.

Ms Mogosanu says New Zealand astronomers like to travel, and will head overseas to see future eclipses before the next full eclipse in New Zealand.

"Lately there is this global thing about eclipses which I think is phenomenal again, it's extraordinary how people just gather together to watch these wonderful things that are happening. I believe it's great because we understand more and more about our world and I think that's something to say in favour of science."

The MetService predicted the eastern coast of the South Island would provide the best views of the total lunar eclipse - and that's exactly where Ian Griffin was, who has provided these photos he took near Dunedin.

New Zealanders will next see a blood moon in 2018.

Photo: Ian Griffin

blood moon

Photo: Ian Griffin

Photos were also sent to the Facebook page for Radio New Zealand Nights while the programme was on air.

Watch a video from NASA explaining lunar eclipses:

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