Look Up! A Super Blue Blood Moon Is Coming in January

On January 1, 2018, New Year's Day, the wolf moon will also be the first supermoon of the year. It'll be the first of 2018 and it will be closely followed by another just weeks later.

The second full moon, or blue moon, which also comes with a lunar eclipse, will occur on the night of January 31 for most. The third will be the full moon on Wednesday, January 31.

Astrologer Richard Nolle first defined the term supermoon in 1979 as he explained that the phenomenon "is a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90 per cent of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit".

The supermoon will happen the evening of January 30. Since the Moon's orbital path is oval, one side is approximately 50,000 km far from the Earth.

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. The final installment of the supermoon series will kick off on January 31, which will be "extra special", NASA says.

These two events will coincide with a total lunar eclipse, or blood moon, on January 31. The supermoon at the end of the month will be the second full moon of the month, which is called a blue moon. Blue moons happen about every two and half years.

Supermoons occur due to the fact that the moon is in a slightly elliptical orbit with Earth, rather than a ideal circle.

The first full moon will happen the evening of January 1 or the morning of January 2, thinking of where you are.

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".

A total lunar eclipse occurs when a full moon passes into Earth's shadow, making the moon appear red - hence the nickname blood moon.

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, supervising research assistant at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

  • Joe Gonzales