Blood moon unlikely over Manawatu

Last updated 16:16 14/04/2014
Blood Moon
BLOOD MOON: The moon as the earth's shadow falls on it during a total lunar eclipse in December, 2011.

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Manawatu residents hoping to get the best seat in the yard for a total lunar eclipse tonight look set to be thwarted by the weather.

MetService meteorologist Daniel Corbett said the timing of the visible blood moon over the region, from 7.06pm to 9.33pm, coincided with a forecast downpour of rain.

"You never know with these things, there might be a break in the clouds but it doesn't look very good around much of the Manawatu.

"Your best chance is to go through the gorge to the east of the mountains, and head towards Hawke's Bay or Wairarapa, but even then there's no guarantees.

"It might be a case of doing a bit of a lunar eclipse wiggle to try and persuade it to come out."

The eclipse is the start of a tetrad of blood moons - four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in-between and six full moons between each eclipse.

It is caused by light bouncing off the moon which is refracted through the Earth's atmosphere giving it a coppery hue.

It will be visible around New Zealand from 6pm when the Moon starts to move into the Earth's shadow and will be completely within the shadow by 7.06pm. Maximum eclipse would be at 7.46pm and totality would end at 8.23pm. 

The next total lunar eclipse for Manawatu to look forward to will be overnight on October 8/9, with mid-eclipse at 11.55pm. The eclipse on April 4, 2015, will also be visible from this country, but that of September 28, 2015, would not be.

Palmerston North Astronomical Society president Ian Cooper said if the clouds miraculously parted most people would be able to see it from their backyard, provided they had a view of the sky just above the Tararua and Ruahine Range.

"It's really unfortunate that this one is getting harmed by the weather because for young kids this one would have been timed perfectly.

"We've had a drought all summer and as it come to eclipse time we're getting more cloud than you can shake a stick at."

Corbett said missing the eclipse would have its benefits for Manawatu. At least 14mm of rain has already fallen in Palmerston North in the past week, including 6mm on Monday and another "big dollop" would bring smiles to the faces of farmers.

"It's good, decent rain, finally.

"We're in for another good shout over Wednesday and then on Thursday we get some tropical moisture which is just perfect for the paddocks this time of year."

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- Manawatu Standard

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