A beautiful and rare New Year ‘Wolf Moon’ will light up the skies over the next couple of nights.
It’ll be the first full moon of 2018 and is set to reach its peak between 1 January and 2 January at around 2.24am (GMT) – it’ll appear 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than usual.
Tonight’s supermoon, (Monday 1 January), will be the first of the year and sounds like it’s well-worth looking out for.
A supermoon is coming! On January 1, the full Moon will be at or near its closest point in its orbit around Earth, making it a supermoon. Bundle up, get outside and look up! https://t.co/HIlqgyZFY3 pic.twitter.com/YUzIIZJ26G
— NASA (@NASA) December 30, 2017
According to Live Science, a supermoon occurs when the moon is ‘at perigee’, which is its closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit, around the same time as a full moon.
The moon, which will be visible on New Year’s Day, will appear bigger than usual, but most people will not notice the difference.
However, thanks to a phenomenon called ‘moon illusion’, the moon may appear bigger when it’s close to the horizon, so this New Year’s supermoon may be most impressive when it’s rising.
If you’re going to miss it, somehow, NASA said there will be another, more impressive ‘blue moon’ on 31 January.
— heihei (@2010_heihei) January 1, 2018
The blue moon happens once every two-and-a-half years – though obviously, them lining up with a supermoon, is even more rare.
The moon will coincide with a lunar eclipse, which will see the moon appearing darker than normal – giving it an ‘eerie look as it loses its light’.
The eclipse will be visible across most of the US, north-eastern Europe, Russia, Asia and Australia.
The effect can turn the moon red, because of the way the light ‘bends around the Earth’, writes The Independent.
January 2018 gives us astronomical rarity: 2 Super moons, tonight (Jan 1) and Jan 31. Moon's orbit brings it closer to earth and appears bigger, brighter in sky. By Feb the moon will be smaller. The second full moon to appear in any month is called a "blue moon" because it's rare pic.twitter.com/4I1ga6KeL3
— James Hall (@hallaboutafrica) January 1, 2018
Explaining supermoons, Lyle Tavernier, an educational technology specialist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said:
Because supermoon is not an official astronomical term, there is no definition about just how close to perigee the full moon has to be in order to be called ‘super.’
Generally, supermoon is used to refer to a full moon 90 percent or closer to perigee.
When the term supermoon was originally coined, it was also used to describe a new moon in the same position, but since the new moon isn’t easily visible from Earth, it’s rarely used in that context anymore.
If you’re into your supermoons and you missed November’s ‘Beaver moon’, tonight’s your night to look up.
The full moon, back in November, appeared 14 per cent bigger than usual as well as being a third brighter than what we’re used to seeing.
This phenomenon – and the second supermoon of the year of three – was given its peculiar name because traditionally, it was the period in time when hunters, looking for fur, set out beaver traps.