Friday 30 September 2016

Stargazers observe first blood red supermoon in 30 years

Published 28/09/2015 | 07:10

Blood moon taken this morning in Dundalk overlooking St.Patrick's Cathedral Photo: Darran Rafferty
Blood moon taken this morning in Dundalk overlooking St.Patrick's Cathedral Photo: Darran Rafferty
Blood moon taken this morning in Dundalk overlooking St.Patrick's Cathedral Photo: Darran Rafferty
Blood moon taken this morning in Dundalk overlooking St.Patrick's Cathedral Photo: Darran Rafferty
Photo: Paul Condron
Lunar eclipse last night at 4.05am, in Enfield, co Meath. Photo: Azharul Omar
Eclipse sequence taken in Waterford. Photo: Leah Burgess
Taken at Ballycotton Co Cork Photo: Leah Burgess
A man takes picture of the screen displaying the moon, appearing in a dim red colour, which is covered by the Earth's shadow during a total lunar eclipse in Warsaw
The moon rises over electricity pylons near Bath ahead of a lunar eclipse which will create a 'supermoon' when the the moon is near to its closest point to the Earth
A "supermoon'' rises above Brighton in southern England
The moon is seen above a cross channel ferry leaving the port of Dover
A super moon rises in the sky near the Eiffel tower as seen from Suresnes
A supermoon, the last of this year's supermoons, rises near the minaret of a mosque in Wadi El-Rayan Lake at the desert of Al Fayoum Governorate, southwest of Cairo
A super moon rises in the sky near the Eiffel tower as seen from Suresnes
A supermoon, the last of this year's supermoons, is pictured in the sky in Ciudad Juarez
A partially eclipsed supermoon, the last of this year's supermoons, rises over Las Vegas
The so-called supermoon passes behind the peak of the Washington Monument during a lunar eclipse
The so-called supermoon rises above office buildings Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo., before a total lunar eclipse.
The Moon, appearing in a dim red colour, is covered by the Earth's shadow during a total lunar eclipse over Paris
A so-called supermoon is seen at the finish of a lunar eclipse behind an Orthodox church in Turets, Belarus, 110 kilometers (69 miles) west of capital Minsk
The supermoon raises behind seagulls on the beach in Evanston, Illinois
People watch a blood red "supermoon" in the skies above Glastonbury Tor, created from a lunar eclipse with the moon near to its closest point to the Earth.
The moon becoming eclipsed by the earth's shadow above the Kelpies, the world's largest equine sculptures, in Falkirk.
A blood red "supermoon" in the skies above Portsmouth created from a lunar eclipse with the moon near to its closest point to the Earth.
A supermoon hangs in the sky in Frankfurt
A supermoon hangs in the sky in Frankfurt
A blood red "supermoon" in the skies by the Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth
A composite image of a blood red "supermoon" in the skies above the Liver Building, Liverpool
The moon, appearing in a dim red colour, is covered by the Earth's shadow during a total lunar eclipse in Warsaw

Stargazers have observed a blood red "supermoon" in the skies above Ireland for the first time in 30 years.

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Hundreds of people gathered at the headquarters of Astronomy Ireland in Blanchardstown in West Dublin in the early hours of this morning to see the phenomenon.

Speaking on RTE Radio One's 'Morning Ireland', Astronomy Ireland's David Moore described it as an "incredible spectacle of nature".

Astronomy Ireland set up a special watch from 2am to 6am at their headquarters in West Dublin.

"There were hundreds of people there, far more than we expected at that ungodly hour," Mr Moore said. 

"It was an incredible spectacle of nature, perfect sky, hardly a cloud in sight - we saw the whole thing from start to finish. A supermoon and that blood moon effect.

A super moon rises in the sky near the Eiffel tower as seen from Suresnes
A super moon rises in the sky near the Eiffel tower as seen from Suresnes

"The total part of the eclipse, which lasted an hour and ten minutes from 3.10am and 4.25am, that's when the moon is completely immersed in the earth's shadow. It goes From a bright full moon at night to an extremely dark night with a just a dull glowing ember of the moon. It was effectively being lit up by all of the earth's sunrises and all of the earth's sunsets.

"The moon shouldn't be visible, but thanks to our atmosphere, we do see it.

A blood red
A blood red "supermoon" in the skies by the Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth

"That scared our ancient ancestors to death literally in some cases. There have been huge upheavals in human history caused by superstitions about this," he explained.

Mr Moore joked that they urged stargazers to take today off work - the next blood moon is scheduled to take place in three years' time on a Monday morning, and on a Monday morning again three years after that. In fact, it will be 14 years before people will get to see an "evening sighting", Mr Moore said.

The so-called supermoon passes behind the peak of the Washington Monument during a lunar eclipse
The so-called supermoon passes behind the peak of the Washington Monument during a lunar eclipse

Mr Moore is due to talk about the blood moon at a special lecture in Galway Town Hall tomorrow evening.

He is urging people to send their blood moon images to Astronomy Ireland - all pictures will be archived.

A so-called supermoon is seen at the finish of a lunar eclipse behind an Orthodox church in Turets, Belarus, 110 kilometers (69 miles) west of capital Minsk
A so-called supermoon is seen at the finish of a lunar eclipse behind an Orthodox church in Turets, Belarus, 110 kilometers (69 miles) west of capital Minsk

The eerie light created from the lunar eclipse with the moon near to its closest point to the Earth delighted amateur astronomers and photographers, while filling others with dread.

Some religious groups and believers in astrology were convinced it is a sign that the End of Days is approaching.

A composite image of a blood red
A composite image of a blood red "supermoon" in the skies above the Liver Building, Liverpool

The spectacle began to unfold from 1.10am, with the "total" phase - when the moon is completely in shadow - lasting from 3.11am to 4.24am. It was to go on until the moon emerged from the Earth's shadow at 6.24am.

When the moon is at perigee, its shortest distance from the Earth, it is 226,000 miles away and appears 14% larger and 30% brighter than when it is at its furthermost point.

The moon is seen above a cross channel ferry leaving the port of Dover
The moon is seen above a cross channel ferry leaving the port of Dover

The last time this coincided with a lunar eclipse, when the moon is covered by the Earth's shadow, was in 1982 and the event will not be repeated until 2033.

During a lunar eclipse, the moon turns a deep rusty red, due to sunlight being scattered by the Earth's atmosphere.

Through the ages, so-called "blood moons" have been viewed as ill omens by superstitious people.

Anyone staying up to see the red moon was in for a "quite an unusual sight", according to Society for Popular Astronomy vice president Robin Scagell.

Unlike with a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is completely safe to observe through binoculars or a small telescope.

Many believe this eclipse was significant as it marks the completion of an unusual line-up of four total eclipses at six-monthly intervals known as a "tetrad".

Texan pastor and author John Hagee says this has only happened three times in the past 500 years and claimed it is likely to herald a "hugely significant" world event.

Did you see the supermoon? Send us your pictures to contact@independent.ie

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