Science

Super Wolf Moon Will Take Place On January 1st

The next full moon will be visible as soon as this New Year’s day, Jan. 1. According to NASA, we will be able to see two full moons in the first month of 2018. The first full moon of the year, taking place on Jan. 1, is called a wolf moon and this one will be a supermoon, but another supermoon will also occur at the end of the month, on Jan. 31, and is called a super blue blood moon.

Super Wolf Moon
Image source: YouTube Video Screenshot

The celestial event called a “supermoon” takes place when the moon reaches perigee, the point in the moon’s orbit when it is closest to our planet, as moon’s orbit wobbles and rather looks more elliptical. When the moon reaches perigee, we see a “supermoon” which appears to be larger and brighter in the night sky, and many astronomers enjoy observing the event.

When a “supermoon” occurs, the moon looks roughly 14% larger and appears 30% brighter compared to full moons at apogee (when it is furthest away from the earth). According to NASA, “supermoons” usually take place every 13 months. If you worry that you’ll be too busy celebrating the New Year, don’t worry, aside from the wolf moon, another supermoon will take place at the end of the month on Jan. 31, as previously noted. However, this will mark an even greater celestial event when three different moon cycles will align, “supermoon,” “blue moon,” and “blood moon.”

According to NASA, when two full moons occur in the same month, the second one is called a blue moon, and it takes place every two and a half years. Also NASA said that this second full moon will come with a total lunar eclipse, an event that occurs when the Earth, Sun, and Moon align in a way that Earth’s shadow blocks the sunlight that would reflect off the moon.

On NASA’s website it says that the moon will “lose its brightness and take on an eerie, fainter-than-normal glow from the scant sunlight that makes its way through Earth’s atmosphere,” and that it will likely cast a reddish hue, as the atmosphere bends the light. These totally eclipsed moons are normally called “blood moons.”

According to NASA, the event will be visible from western North America, across the Pacific Ocean to eastern Asia. Also, on timeanddate.com it says that the best time to observe the full supermoon is just as it rises, when it’s getting above the horizon. On that site, you can also find a calculator which can help you determine when is the right time to watch in your location.

Also, in case you can’t watch the supermoon outside, you can watch it on The Virtual Telescope Project, which provides a livestream of super moons. But, before the January 31st spectacular event, make sure to check out the super wolf moon on January 1.