Moongazers will have the best possible view of the upcoming supermoon on a one-off Qantas scenic flight later this month.
Tickets will go on sale tomorrow for a three-hour night flight on Wednesday, May 26, which is designed to give passengers the clearest possible view of the special lunar event.
Not only will the supermoon on May 26 be the second and last for 2021, it will also coincide with a full lunar eclipse, creating a rare double phenomenon that will cast the moon a bright shade of red against the night sky.
A Boeing Dreamliner will take off from Sydney Airport and climb to a cruising altitude of 43,000 feet, well above any clouds and away from the city’s light pollution.
Qantas pilots have worked with the CSIRO to develop the optimal flight path over the Pacific Ocean to catch the supermoon in all its glory.
The flight will be piloted by Qantas’ 787 fleet technical manager, Captain Alex Passerini.
“That moon is 240,000 miles [384,000km] away but we’ll be about 12km closer to it, at about 40,000 feet,” he said.
The flight will be on a Qantas 787 Dreamliner, which has larger windows for the best views. Picture: David Gray/Getty Images for Destination NSW/QantasSource:Getty Images
“We’re working with the CSIRO to develop a flight plan that will give us the best viewing, making sure we get those times right for exactly when the lunar eclipse is going to be at its peak, so we can afford everyone on board the best possible view while that’s happening.
“We’ll be above the weather, getting that great view from the larger windows and not being subject to the light pollution in the Sydney area because that affects viewing.”
Captain Passerini said he was particularly excited about the flight, being somewhat of a moongazer himself.
“I think [the scenic flight] continues the history Australia has had with the moon and the moon landings,” he said.
“I was born when the Apollo 11 landings occurred so I always look up at the moon and think about … the great things humanity has done and that’s one of them. So it’s going to be extra special for me.”
The supermoon on March 26 will be the second and final supermoon of this year. Picture: Matthias Hangst/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
The moon will be at its closest point at 11.50am AEST on May 26, coming within 357,311km of Earth.
The total lunar eclipse will occur between 9.11pm and 9.25pm AEST, when the moon is 357,462km from Earth.
The experience is part of a series of themed flights by Qantas to draw travellers back to the sky.
The airline has already offered scenic flights to nowhere – which were so popular among holiday-starved Australians, tickets sold out in 10 minutes – “flights to somewhere”, where passengers were able to stay overnight at their destination, and a reboot of its 1990s “mystery flights”.
The three-hour Sydney flight begins and ends at Sydney Airport. Picture: David Gray/Getty Images for Destination NSW/QantasSource:Getty Images
“We have been absolutely overwhelmed with the popularity of our special flights. The recent mystery flights sold out within 15 minutes with hundreds of people on waiting lists and they keep telling us they want more,” Qantas chief customer officer Stephanie Tully said.
“We are very excited to now be doing a supermoon scenic flight and the 787 has the largest windows of any passenger aircraft so it’s ideal for moon gazing.
“We think this flight has great appeal for anyone with a passion for astronomy, science, space photography, aviation or just keen to do something a little out of this world.”
Just over 100 seats on the supermoon scenic flight will go on sale on Wednesday, May 12. Economy seats start from $499, premium economy from $899 and business class from $1499.
The experience includes in-flight commentary from CSIRO astronomer Dr Vanessa Moss, exclusive merchandise, in-flight food and beverages and a gift bag.
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