ADID JIMENEZ

Not-so-super news for lovers of the moon

SOME say it is a sign the world is in chaos and the end nigh - but if it is, we won't even notice it happening.

The fourth total lunar eclipse in two years will hit us tomorrow at the slightly un-spooky time of 12.50pm.

Stargazers in the northern hemisphere will be able to observe the phenomenon - dubbed a blood moon - in their night skies, but for us down under the event is more likely to coincide with lunch.

Though we won't be able to see much of the blood moon, the controversy and theories surrounding its appearance will give local astronomers plenty to debate.

While the occurrence of the blood moon is common, usually twice a year, tomorrow's is the last in a tetrad (series of four) of consecutive lunar eclipses, with no partial eclipses to break the pattern.

It also coincides with a supermoon - so-called because the moon will be at its closest point to Earth - tonight and tomorrow night, and will be our first full moon of spring.

But the most unusual part of this current tetrad of eclipses is that they have all occurred on Jewish holy days.

The two eclipses last year coincided with Passover and the Feast of the Tabernacle, as did the two eclipses this year.

An astronomer from Wappa Falls Observatory in Yandina, Owen Bennedick, said he believed the dates of the lunar eclipses were "warning signs of events" that were going to happen.

"They are all signs from the heavens that significant things are changing on planet Earth," he said.

Unlike some diehard conspiracy theorists, Mr Bennedick does not think people need to stock up on emergency rations just yet.

"It won't get to Monday at 12.50 and all of a sudden the world's going to end in five seconds," he said.

"But it's just one of the signs out there just for people to take notice of how we're running the planet."

University of Queensland Professor of Astronomy Dr Tamara Davis said stargazers had been assigning religious and cultural significance to moon activity for thousands of years with little success.

"Lunar eclipses are pretty common and well known and understood," she said.

"Supermoons are also very common.

"The fact that they both happen together is relatively common, not that big an astronomical deal.

"The idea that it has some sort of religious connotation, that kind of thing has been pulled out lots in the past."

She said the fact the eclipses occurred on holy days was simply a "whole bunch of coincidences" and if we extrapolated statistics beyond the current day we would find it was not that remarkable.

"People who want influence will call on astronomical phenomena," she said.

"But it's beyond our control. It's really just orbiting planets."

The Wappa Falls observatory will be open to stargazers from 5pm today and tomorrow.

Patrons can see the supermoon through 12 telescopes and watch a special film about the phenomenon.



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