January Features Two Supermoons, Blue
Moon and Total Lunar Eclipse
January 2, 2017
Nature lovers will have their fill of
celestial treats in January with two supermoons, a blue moon and a total
lunar eclipse gracing the night sky.
The first supermoon of 2018 will occur on the evening of New Year's Day
into the night of Jan. 2.
A supermoon occurs when a full moon is at its closet orbital point to
Earth, appearing up to 30 percent brighter and up to 14 percent larger
than when the moon is at its furthest point in its orbit.
Another supermoon will follow on Jan 31, passing by Earth about 26,500
kilometers (16,466 miles) closer than usual.
Those two supermoons are part of a trilogy of supermoons that began on
Dec. 3. Forecasters say it is rare to have two supermoons back to back,
let alone three in a row.
Scientists say the best time to view a supermoon is right after moonrise
and before sunrise, when the moon is sitting on the horizon. This makes
the moon look even larger compared to other objects appearing against
the night sky, such as buildings and trees.
last full moon of January is also known as a blue moon because it is the
second full moon to occur during a single month.
The Jan. 31 moon will also feature a total lunar eclipse, with totality
visible from western North America across the Pacific to eastern Asia.
The moon will appear to be red, and is nicknamed a blood moon, because
it lines up perfectly with the Earth and sun such that the Earthís
shadow totally blocks the sunís light. The moon loses the brightness
normally caused by the reflection of the sun's light and takes on an
eerie, reddish glow.
The lunar eclipse will make the Jan. 31 moon a blood moon, a blue moon
and a supermoon all at the same time.
Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is safe to view with the naked
eye, so there is nothing to fear if you are captivated for a long
stretch by the night sky.