First supermoon of 2018 coincides with New Year's Day

There will be more than just fireworks lighting up the night sky this New Year's....

Posted: Dec 29, 2017 1:01 AM
Updated: Dec 29, 2017 1:01 AM

There will be more than just fireworks lighting up the night sky this New Year's.

According to NASA, January's first full moon -- nicknamed a wolf moon -- will take place on January 1 and it will be a supermoon. It'll be the first of 2018 and it will be closely followed by another just weeks later.

A second supermoon will occur on January 31

Best time to view a full supermoon is right after moonrise

In case you don't remember, a "supermoon" occurs when the moon appears bigger and brighter in the sky. A supermoon occurs when the moon becomes full on the same day that it reaches its perigree, the point in the moon's elliptical orbit when it is closest to Earth.

During these events, the moon generally appears to be 14% bigger and 30% brighter than a typical full moon. They typically occur around every 13 months, according to NASA.

But if you miss the supermoon on New Year's Day, don't worry. The big event is coming on January 31, when another supermoon is set to light up the sky -- making it, as some have pointed out, a "blue supermoon."

As NASA notes, some folks call the second full moon in a single month a blue moon, and they occur about every two and a half years.

January 31's supermoon, according to the space agency, will also feature a total lunar eclipse -- when the Earth, sun and moon, line up in such a way that the Earth blocks the sunlight that would otherwise reflect off the moon.

So the moon won't be as bright, but it will "take on an eerie, fainter-than-normal glow," NASA says, and could take on a "reddish hue."

That celestial event will be visible from western North America through the Pacific Ocean to eastern Asia, NASA says.

January's supermoons will be just the latest in a spate of supermoon events taking place in close succession. The last one occurred on December 3.

The best time to see the full supermoon is right after moonrise, when it is just getting up above the horizon, timeanddate.com says. That site also provides a calculator, so you can figure out exactly when to get out and watch.

If you can't get out to take in the view with your own eyes, the Internet can bring it to you. Check out The Virtual Telescope Project or Slooh.com, which livestreams supermoons.

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