2 mins read 31 May 2021

How the Space Community Celebrated the 2021 Lunar Eclipse

Space communities across Australia and New Zealand were treated with a rare astronomical event – the Moon being eclipsed in the closest point of its orbit. Here's how the 2021 Lunar Eclipse was captured from across the region.

Our celestial neighbour, the Moon, bathed in red light refracted through Earth’s atmosphere. Credit: Ángel López-Sánchez.

Leading up to most astronomical events, you’ll notice that astronomers and skywatchers all commence a ritual of asking omnipotent beings (in one form or another) to ensure no clouds are present to block the view of some of the wonderful celestial phenomena that we are lucky enough to see.

Such was the case last week when Australia and New Zealand were in prime position to catch a total lunar eclipse, whilst the Moon was at its closest point in its orbit. This was a rare event – not that an eclipse was occurring but rather that it was happening at the same time the Moon was at perigee – the closest point to Earth along its travels.

Lunar eclipses occur when the Moon’s orbital trajectory moves it into the path of the Earth’s shadow. At first, the Earth’s curvature is thrown upon the Moon, as it slowly looks like it becomes consumed by the darkness – but then, it starts to be coloured with red and orange hues.

This is the result of Earth’s atmosphere acting like a giant refractor lens and bending the starlight emitted by the Sun inwards, with the red light of the spectrum projected onto the lunar face. A similar process occurs when we experience red sunrises and sunsets on Earth.

The Australian and New Zealand space communities got very excited about the event and shared their images through Twitter and Instagram with us. Here’s a sample of a few of them, but if you really want to see the full range, check out the #SpaceAusMoon hashtag on Twitter.

People were out in force at Sydney's Bondi Beach with their cameras and lenses as the Moon rose through the pink hues of sunset over the Tasman sea. Credit: Shiv Boles.

From a little more inland, the city provided a stunning foreground as the full Moon climbed above the skyscrapers and cranes. Credit: R. Mandow.

Earth's curved shadow cast on the Moon as the eclipse commenced. Credit: Andy Casely.

The clouds couldn't stop the crowds gathering with telescopes at Tamworth to watch the event. Credit: @JackoAU/Twitter.

Twitter user @Mattorrz caught a break in the clouds to capture this stunning image of the red hues cast onto the Moon during the eclipse from Adelaide. Credit: @Mattorrz/Twitter.

The skies cleared just in time above regional Victoria for Maree Timms to capture the Moon turning red. Credit: @Mareetimms/Twitter.

Emily Collie caught this beauty from Melbourne, with the Moon turning orange and surrounded by stars in Scorpio. Credit: @melbournegirl/Twitter.

The Moon transitioning through the phases of the Lunar Eclipse as captured by Instagram users @Cornishinoz (top image; Canberra) and @NicMullerPhoto (bottom image; Ballarat).

The eclipse captured off in the distance, with some local plant life from the Gold Coast. Credit: @ozzyastronaut/Twitter.

Jeffrey Addison captured some detail from the lunar surface using his Canon camera from the Sunshine Coast. Credit: @Jeffrey_Addison/Twitter.

Michael Brennan caught this stunning image of the eclipse, as well as the Milky Way disc rising from Mount Macedon. Credit: @billjoemick/Twitter.

Stunning composite image showing the Moon going from bright and full, through the eclipse and eventually turning red. Credit: @ReactorDrone/Twitter.

An absolutely stunning and detailed image from Andy Casely in the Blue Mountains, of the lunar disc and surface during the full eclipse. Credit: @DeepTwilight/Twitter.

Here’s a beautiful compilation of many of the photos that came in through the #SpaceAusMoon tag from around Australia and NZ.

And finally, here are the team submissions from around the country as well. Credit: team.

We want to thank everyone who got out there, enjoyed the eclipse and submitted their photos to us - it’s great to see our space communities participating in this astronomical event. You can catch more images on the #SpaceAusMoon tag on Twitter and Instagram.