Advocate reader Ian Spagnolo captured this image of a supermoon rising over the Coffs Coast in December 2016.
Advocate reader Ian Spagnolo captured this image of a supermoon rising over the Coffs Coast in December 2016. Ian Spagnolo.

Blood moon just the start for star gazers

A BLOOD moon lunar eclipse followed by a planetary alignment - it doesn't get much better than that.

But perhaps it does. According to David Reneke, from Mid North Coast Astronomy, it will be the longest duration lunar eclipse of the 21st century.

"The moon will be passing into a deeper part of the earth's shadow than it normally does.”

Being a lunar eclipse it's completely safe to watch.

"You don't need any kind of protective filters. You can watch the lunar eclipse with nothing more than your own two eyes, but get away from any bright lights.

"If you're in the Coffs CBD get out to one of the beaches - it will be a great family event.”

The moon starts to move into the earth's shadow a little after 5.30am on Saturday with totality, or maximum eclipse at 6.20am when you should see the spectacular reddish colour.

"The red light is because of pollution in the atmosphere. That might not be the best word to use but it's a lot more polluted than it was, say, two to three hundred years ago.”

To top it off there will be an unusual and potentially very spectacular planetary alignment with five planets - Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars - at the same side of the sun in their orbits with respect to earth.

"It's just an unusual set of circumstances with five planets in the sky and Mars making a close approach. It's just a real fluke and it should be a very nice sight for people.”

While the phenomena will be easily and safely viewed with the naked eye it's not so easy to photograph.

"You will be disappointed with an ordinary camera. You will need an SLR with a zoom lens on a tripod and it would be a good idea to take some shots at different F-stops.”

If you take any shots why not share them with the Advocate. Email them to advocate@coffscoastadvocate.com.au



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