We mostly get to see the full moon every 29 or so days. However, this next month will be slightly different. In January, we will get to see a super blue blood moon, which will peak on January 31. Here’s what you need to know about this celestial event, which is actually an alignment of three different moon cycles.
A “Super moon” refers to the perigean full moon, as it is called by astronomers. This full moon occurs when the moon is located at the perigee, which is the point in the moon’s orbit when it is the closest to the Earth. According to NASA, the super moon term has been used ever since 1979, as it was coined by an astrologer. However, more recently, the phenomenon of when the moon is at its most distant point of its orbit around the Earth is called a “micromoon,” but this term hasn’t yet become as popular.
Now that the super blue blood moon will peak, it will appear slightly larger than it would during the other full moons throughout the year. Since the size of the moon mainly depends on where the moon is located in its orbit, it’s about 14% bigger compared to other full moons.
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The “blue” of the full moon that will occur on Jan. 31 is related to a coincidence of the lunar cycle aligning with our own calendar. As it takes around 29.5 days for the moon to fully orbit the Earth, there is usually only one full moon a month. However, in January we will get to experience two full moons, and as such, the second full moon is called a “blue moon.”
The term “blood moon” is a nickname that is connected to the lunar eclipse as the moon will appear to be a reddish color during the eclipse. During a lunar eclipse, the earth will precisely align with the sun and the moon. Our planet’s shadow will be cast over the moon, similarly like during the August’s solar eclipse cast the moon’s shadow over our own planet.
It is worth mentioning that Lunar eclipses only occur during a full moon, although they don’t always happen during every full moon that we have. Earth’s orbit around the sun and moon’s orbit around our planet have wobbles, which prevent them from always having a perfect alignment.
The first full moon in 2018 is called a Wolf Moon and will occur on January 1st, while the second, super blue blood moon will occur on January 31st.