Total Lunar Eclipse on Rapa Nui

On January 31, at 5:51 a.m., local time, Easter Island will witness the beginning of a total eclipse of a so-called blue moon. Totality will be reached at 8:30 in the morning, when the shadow of the earth completely covers the moon. This phenomenon will be visible in Asia, North America and a good part of the Pacific Ocean, so that Easter Island will be the only part of Chile where it can be observed.

It’s been 150 years since we had this astronomical phenomenon that included two special events : a super moon and a blue moon. The first one is caused by a full moon coinciding with the moon being very close to the earth (“perigee”) which makes the moon seem larger and brighter. The second, the “blue moon”, is the name given to a second full moon within one month. And, at this time, we have a total eclipse, as well – a super eclipse of a blue moon.

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This time the date coincides with the start of the Tapati cultural festival which will be held between the 2nd and the 17th of February. Due to all of this, the Island expects a massive influx of visitors, as happened in July of 2010 when a total solar eclipse brought nearly 6,000 people to Rapa Nui.

All the forces of nature – the sun, the moon, fire, rain, wind and stars – receive the greatest respect from the Polynesian people, who give them names according to their beneficial or malignant effects. For Malcom Clark, in a paper presented in the Easter Island Conference in Hanga Roa in 1984, one of the motivations for the Polynesian migrations could well have had religious traits associated with astronomical phenomena which remained visible in the sky for longer time.

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