Stargazers observe first blood red supermoon in 30 years
Published 28/09/2015 | 07:10
Stargazers have observed a blood red "supermoon" in the skies above Ireland for the first time in 30 years.
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.
"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.
"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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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