This year’s Yemaya Blessing of the Waters will be held a little late that usual and will be held on the second full moon January will contain this year. When months contain two moons, the second is often referred to as a “blue moon”. While the term “blue moon” has been around for over 400 years, according to Philip Hiscock, its calendrical meaning has only become widespread in the last 25 years or so.
UniSA Adelaide Planetarium astronomy lecturer, Paul Curnow, also advises that this January blue moon will also coincide with a total eclipse of the moon (visible from Australia where the maximum eclipse will be reached just before midnight at 11:59:51 pm, South Australian time), as well as a Supermoon (moon at perigee).
The last time a lunar eclipse coincided with both a Supermoon and blue moon was in 1866, some 151 years ago – and the next one won’t occur until 2028.
The moon will begin to move into the earth’s shadow (the penumbral part of the eclipse) around 9:21pm, with the total eclipse phase taking place at 11:21pm until 11:59pm when it reaches its maximum. The total eclipse will end at 12:37am, with the moon moving completely out of the earth’s shadow around 2:38am.
Paul Curnow advises that a lunar eclipse is totally safe to watch naked eye as it is caused when the moon moves into the earth’s shadow. This results in some sunlight being refracted (bent) in the red part of the spectrum and will make the moon appear an orange colour to a blood red depending on atmospheric dust at the time. Australia is particularly well placed for what should be a visually stunning eclipse.
The Kaurna People of the Adelaide Plains call the moon ‘Kakirra’, and when it is full it is called ‘Kakirramunto’. Blood moons were often seen as portents of doom to many ancient cultures, before scientists were able to explain what was happening. All we need now are clear skies.
So if you are not doing anything on the evening of Wednesday, 31 January 2018, maybe a little moon gazing could be appropriate. If you are Adelaide, you are most welcome to join at Grange Beach for our open to the public Yemaya Blessing of the Waters event. More information about this event can be found here.
Many thanks to Paul Curnow (Astronomy Lecturer, Adelaide Planetarium, UniSA) for the above information.