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Friday 1 September 2023 | Written by Joanne Holden | Published in Environment, Features, National, Weekend


Blue supermoon dances above Rarotonga
The blue supermoon on Wednesday evening lights up the sky behind walker Hana May, 67. 23083150 PHOTO: JOANNE HOLDEN

Rarotonga’s full moon walkers were treated to a rare phenomenon as the first blue supermoon in 14 years ducked between the clouds above Muri Beach on Wednesday evening.

About 30 people converged on the beach behind Muri Beach Club Hotel for August’s second full moon walk, a near-monthly gathering which Cook Islands woman Ruth Mave started during the Covid-19 lockdown to “get people moving” and grow their appreciation for the outdoors.

“This one is a blue supermoon, so it’s really close to the Earth and it’s the second full moon this month,” Mave said.

“It’s a beauty.”

While the last blue supermoon rose in 2009, there will not be another one until 2032.

According to astronomy website EarthSky, the moon was about 30,000 kilometres closer to Earth than the average distance of 386,242km on Wednesday evening.

Mave said she begins each walk by handing out slips of paper with a word written on them – such as “freedom” or “purification” – describing what the receiver should try to work on for the month.

Then, walkers can choose how far they want to go as the sky darkens and the moon rises: 500 metres to and from Pacific Resort, 1km to and from Koka Lagoon Cruises, or 2km to and from Nautilus Resort.

Hana May, of Ngatangiia, has joined six full moon walks with Wednesday’s gathering being “extra special”.

“A supermoon can light the whole sky up,” 67-year-old May said.

“The group is getting bigger each time I come. It’s really, really great. You’ve got the fresh air, the sea – and everyone talks about their experiences, whether they live here or they’re a tourist.

“I’m not energetic and I’m certainly not athletic, but Ruth encourages us to get the blood flowing in our system.”

Mave said the walk originated as a swim while the country’s borders were closed.

“It was an uncertain time – so it gave us an opportunity to get away, chat, have a wee swim, and refresh to face another month,” she said.

“When people started thinking we were doing a big swim around the motu, I thought people would be more open to coming along if it was a full moon walk.”