January starts with wolf supermoon, ends with supermoon lunar eclipse

Dec 30, 2017, 00:13
January starts with wolf supermoon, ends with supermoon lunar eclipse

The first supermoon of the year actually happens on New Year's Day. It'll be the first of 2018 and it will be closely followed by another just weeks later.

At the end of January, skywatchers will be able to glimpse a rare phenomenon: a super blue blood moon.

Supermoons occur when a full moon coincides with the time that the moon is closest to Earth.

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The nearby perigee (the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite at which it is closest to the earth) Full Moon seem around 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than Full Moons that occur near the apogee (the point farthest from Earth) in the Moon's orbit.

Native Americans knew the full moon of January as the Wolf Moon, a time when wolves roamed the edges of the village in search of whatever food they might find.

The supermoon will happen the evening of January 30. The moon will be 223,068 miles, 358,994 in km from Earth. This isn't as unusual as the saying "once in a blue moon" might imply: Two full moons typically occur in the same month every two and a half years.

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Yet looking up at the moon itself to observe our celestial companion is worth it, and a supermoon (or other full moon) is as good an occasion as any to check it out.

And as a post by NASA on the "supermoon trilogy" explains, the January 31 supermoon will be definitely worth taking a look at. In this case, the Earth, the Sun and the Moon don't generally arrange themselves in a straight line to align the moon in the shadow of the Earth.

Altogether, the three events - a blue moon, a supermoon and a blood moon - will make for a spectacular show the last night of January. For the viewers of 31 January lunar eclipse, from some places, this will not be entirely visible because it starts near moonrise and is only visible on Earth's night side. Blood moons are a much creepier way to describe total lunar eclipses, which turn the astronomical body a vibrant crimson.

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These lunar eclipses only ensue about twice a year given that the moon orbits at an angle compared to the Earth, so this precise alignment by itself is an unusual sight indeed. "Folks in the Eastern United States, where the eclipse will be partial, will have to get up in the morning to see it", said Noah Petro, a research scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.