On Wednesday night between 8:51 PM and 12:28, depending on where you are, Australia will be treated to a bunch of novelty-style moons, all at once. This alignment of the celestial bodies doesn’t happen much, and hasn’t happened here since 1983—which was the year that both the internet and the mobile phone were first launched, just for some context.
Anyway, the point is this is a unique occurrence, and here’s why:
Wednesday will see the start of the new moon, which simply means that it’ll be full. But on this particular full moon, its distance to the Earth will be the least in its elliptical orbit, bringing it closer to us and making it appear some 10 percent larger in the sky. This is what we call a “supermoon.”
At the same time this supermoon is underway, Earth will swing between the moon and the sun, casting a shadow over the moon’s surface. And this is why we’re calling it a supermoon eclipse.
Now, what’s interesting is this shadow won’t appear black or grey. Instead the moon will go a dusty red colour, due to light refracting off molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, striking the moon and turning it “blood” red.
This process is called Rayleigh Scattering and it explains why the sky is blue while sunsets and sunrises are red. What happens is that our atmosphere tends to scatter blue wavelengths of light, while allowing red to get through. This is why when you look up, you’re seeing the one part of the spectrum that’s colliding with our atmosphere.
So this is why it’s a supermoon eclipse, and it explains why the moon will be red. But what’s with the blue moon thing?
Well, a blue moon doesn't actually mean the moon turns blue. Instead, according to ye olde stargazer terminology, a “blue moon” just refers to how often it’s full. Most seasons have three moons—one per month. But every 2.7 years we’ll get four moons in the same season, and the third one gets called “a blue moon.” So we had a full moon in December, then again at the start of January, and now we’ll get another on January 31. So there you go: blue moon, blood moon, supermoon, eclipse.
But what does all of this mean for your finances and personal life?
According to astrologyking.com “a lunar eclipse focuses your attention on intimate relationships, your home, and your family.” The post goes on to suggest the event will present a good opportunity to examine the role of balance in your life, and “you will clearly see any relationship imbalances causing disharmony.”
Oh, and here’s where and when you can see the lunar eclipse doing its thing:
Adelaide: Begins 11.21 PM, ends 12.38 AM.
Brisbane: Begins 10.51 PM, ends 12.08 AM
Darwin: Begins 10.21 PM, ends 11.38 PM
Hobart, Melb, Sydney: Begins 11.51 PM, ends 1.08 AM
Perth: Begins 8.51 PM, ends 10.08 PM
This article originally appeared on VICE AU.