Lunar triple treat stuns Aussie stargazers

Stargazers in Perth were in for a treat with a 150-year event - a super blue blood moon.
Stargazers in Perth were in for a treat with a 150-year event - a super blue blood moon.

A super blue blood moon has wowed stargazers in Western Australia, who had the best views in the country as clear skies offered up a rare lunar triple treat.

A total lunar eclipse turned the moon a brooding, dark red overnight on Wednesday as the event coincided with a supermoon and a blue moon - for the first time over Australia in almost 35 years.

As clouds blanketed much of NSW, the ACT and South Australia late Wednesday night and into early Thursday, watchers in Perth and along the coast of WA were treated to clear skies and the best views.

People used Twitter to post a mixture of grainy pictures to professionally shot snaps, as they watched the spectacle.

However, stargazers in parts of Tasmania, north of the Sunshine Coast and inland in the Northern Territory also has some luck, with gaps in the clouds allowing intermittent views.

In Sydney, it was a case of pot luck, as cloud cover loomed, obscuring the five-hour long eclipse for most of the night.

Astrophysicist Alan Duffy said the random event was a rare trifecta, with the moon appearing "super" big and a third brighter than usual.

The celestial event - it's called a blood moon because of the moon's red hue during a total lunar eclipse - will also be visible across Asia, parts of Europe and the United States.

"The blue wavelengths of light are more scattered than the red, resulting in the reddish colour - this must have been scary for ancient humans that didn't understand what was happening," the manager of Penrith Observatory in Sydney Raelene Sommers said.

A blue moon refers to when there is a second full moon in a calendar month. The first January full moon over Australia was on the second.

For the northern hemisphere, it's the first time in 150 years - since 1866 - that such an event could be seen.

Australians - weather permitting - witness a total lunar eclipse about once every 2.8 years on average.

But it becomes a true rarity when combined with a supermoon and blue moon.

The last time it happened in Australia was December 30, 1983, the same year Bob Hawke was elected prime minister.