By Kevin Loria
On January 1 – New Year’s Day – we’ll see the first supermoon of 2018.
Different cultures around the world have given various names to each full moon of the year. The first full moon of the year is called the wolf moon after the idea that wolves howl at the Moon.
And in this case, it’s also a supermoon, a full moon that arrives when the Moon is at or near the part of its orbit that’s closest to Earth.
The difference between a supermoon and a regular full moon isn’t always easy to tell – though if you could put a supermoon next to a micromoon, a full moon at the part of its orbit furthest from Earth, you’d see it.
But looking up to observe our celestial companion is worth it, and a supermoon (or another full moon) is as good an occasion as any to check it out.
This event is made a bit more special by the fact that this supermoon is one of three occurring in a row. The first appeared on December 3, this one is on January 1, and we’ll see the third on January 31.
And as a NASA post on the “supermoon trilogy” explains, the one on January 31 will definitely be worth seeing.
Looking to January 31
A second full moon to appear in a month – like the one on January 31 – is called a blue moon. They happen about once every two and a half years.
But NASA says that “super blue moon” will also feature a total lunar eclipse, or when the Moon lines up so that the Earth blocks the sun’s light we see reflected in the Moon. These happen about twice a year.
As NASA explains it: “The Moon will lose its brightness and take on an eerie, fainter-than-normal glow from the scant sunlight that makes its way through Earth’s atmosphere. Often cast in a reddish hue because of the way the atmosphere bends the light, totally eclipsed Moons are sometimes called ‘blood moons.'”
“The lunar eclipse on January 31 will be visible during moonset,” said Noah Petro, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
“Folks in the eastern United States, where the eclipse will be partial, will have to get up in the morning to see it.”
And these occasions all serve to remind us of one thing, Petro says: The Moon is pretty cool and worth looking at, no matter what.
“The supermoons are a great opportunity for people to start looking at the Moon,” he said, “not just that once, but every chance they have!”
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
This article (The first supermoon of 2018 will appear on New Year’s Day – and it’s even more special) was originally published on Science Alert and syndicated by The Event Chronicle.
‘Super blue blood moon’ to shine in January 2018
Rare lunar events will mark the entry of 2018 as two supermoons are set to shine on the first and last evenings of January, with the finale expected to have an “extra special” red glow, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said on its website.
A “supermoon” is a full moon that appears 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than the usual full moon. It appears when the moon orbits closest to Earth during its full phase.
The “wolf moon” or the first full moon of the year will be a supermoon, NASA said. It follows the opener of the supermoon “trilogy”- as NASA put it – which was seen in early December.
“You almost feel as though you could reach out, grab the glowing orb, and drop it into your coffee cup,” NASA said.
But moon-gazing will be twice the fun in the grand finale by the end of January, when a very rare “super blue blood moon” will appear.
“Sometimes the celestial rhythms sync up just right to wow us,” NASA said.
A “super blue blood moon” is a “supermoon”, a “blood moon”, and a “blue moon” all happening in one night.
A blue moon is the second full moon in a month, while a blood moon is seen when a full moon temporarily turns red during a total lunar eclipse.
“The January 31st supermoon will feature a total lunar eclipse, with totality viewable from western North America across the Pacific to Eastern Asia,” NASA said.
“The Moon will lose its brightness and take on an eerie, fainter-than-normal glow from the scant sunlight that makes its way through Earth’s atmosphere,” NASA added.
The space agency said it would be best to view to natural phenomenon when the moon rises or sets over the horizon.