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Stargazers roll out red carpet for supermoon

By Rebecca Black

Published 29/09/2015

Moon eclipse photo taken in Banbridge by William Cartmill
Moon eclipse photo taken in Banbridge by William Cartmill
Montage of some shots of last night's lunar eclipse taken in Ballyclare, by Alistair Hamill
'Super blood moon' in the night skies above Ballycastle. By Steven McAuley

A magical experience that was worth a couple of tired days was the verdict of a Co Antrim teacher who stayed up late to experience the first blood-red supermoon over our skies for 30 years.

Alistair Hamill (46), from Ballyclare, watched in awe along with a friend and large mug of coffee in a remote field for four hours, capturing the experience for posterity with his camera.

"It was amazing that as I stood in a field in Ballyclare tweeting my images, I was getting messages from people in places like Texas and New Jersey thanking me for the pictures and saying it was overcast where they were," he said.

Mr Hamill added that while the moon was initially so bright that he could see the details of the field he was in, it went so dark as the eclipse occurred that he could barely see in front of him.

But the same darkness also meant he could see stars around the moon not normally visible to the naked eye.

A supermoon, also known as a perigee moon, occurs when the moon is at its shortest distance from the Earth - some 226,000 miles away. During this time, it appears 14% larger and 30% brighter than when it is at its furthermost point.

The last time this coincided with a lunar eclipse - when the moon is covered by the Earth's shadow - was in 1982, and there will not be another until 2033.

During a lunar eclipse, the moon turns a deep, rusty red colour because of sunlight being scattered by the Earth's atmosphere.

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