Hundreds in Beijing gear up for lunar event not seen since Qing dynasty

BEIJING (Reuters) – Hundreds of skywatchers are expected to huddle at the Beijing Planetarium at dusk on Wednesday to witness a “super blood blue moon” – a three-part lunar phenomenon not seen since the late Qing dynasty more than 150 years ago.

Clear skies are forecast for the Chinese capital, among a number of locations in the country and on the Pacific Rim that will witness a total lunar eclipse.

The eclipse will coincide with a so-called blue moon – or the second full moon in a calendar month – and a super moon, when the moon is at, or near, its closest to Earth.

The moon will start entering the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, or the umbra, at 1148 GMT, with totality expected at 1251 GMT.

The moon will fully emerge from Earth’s shadow at 1512 GMT.

The entire passage will take more than three hours, during which the moon will turn a coppery red as sunlight going through Earth’s atmosphere bounces off its surface.

Skywatchers across western North America set their alarms to wake before dawn on Wednesday, with hundreds expected to view the phenomenon from a Los Angeles mountaintop..

The rare eclipse was also expected to be visible in other parts of Asia, including Australia, Japan and Southeast Asia.

At the Beijing Planetarium, about 800 people are expected to observe the event over the eastern horizon.

The “lunar trifecta”, as it is described by NASA, last took place in the Western hemisphere on March 31, 1866, when the second dome of the United States Capitol had just been completed and H.G. Wells, author of “The Time Machine”, was born.

Further south, the Hong Kong Space Museum has organized a “Night of Total Lunar Eclipse”, though skywatchers may be disappointed due to cloudy weather.

Likewise in Shanghai, expected haze and smog will likely obscure the moon.

Reporting by Ryan Woo; Editing by Darren Schuettler

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