World

Once in a - super blood - blue moon

MIAMI A cosmic event not seen in 36 years - a rare "super blood blue moon" - may be glimpsed on Wednesday in parts of western North America, Asia, the Middle East, Russia and Australia.

The event is causing a buzz because it combines three unusual lunar events - an extra big super moon, a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse.

A blue moon refers to the second full moon in a month. It typically happens once every two years and eight months.

Wednesday's full moon is also the third in a series of "supermoons," which happen when the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit. This point, called the perigee, makes the moon appear 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter.

During the eclipse, the moon will glide into Earth's shadow, turning it from white to orange or red.

"That red light you see is sunlight that has skimmed and bent through Earth's atmosphere and continued on through space to the moon," said Mr Alan MacRobert of Sky and Telescope magazine.

"It's from all the sunrises and sunsets that ring the world at the moment."

The alignment of the sun, moon and Earth will last one hour and 16 minutes, visible before dawn across the western United States and Canada. Those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand should look for it in the evening, as the moon rises.

Unlike a solar eclipse, this lunar eclipse can be safely viewed without protective eye wear.- AFP