January, 2018 will be an exciting month for both professional and amateur astronomers alike. Even if you’re not an astronomer, everyone can still appreciate the beauty of a full moon, and January, 2018 will have two special full moons AND an eclipse!
We’ll be starting off the year with a bang as the first supermoon, called the Wolf Moon, will be on New Year’s Day. Supermoons aren’t rare and occur when the moon is at its closest orbital point. But, having 3 supermoons in a row IS very rare and that’s what’s going to happen in January and February, 2018.
The first January supermoon will be completely full at around 9:24 P.M. Eastern time. This New Year’s moon will be the largest full moon of the year and will be most spectacular to see as it rises in the East. So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t be cloudy here in the Pacific Northwest so we can actually witness it! If you’re an early-to-bed kind of person, you can also see it just before sunrise Tuesday morning.
The full moon on January 31 is called a “Blue Moon” because we rarely will see two full moons in one month. This second full moon will best be seen around 8:26 A.M. Eastern time, when it will be fullest. This Blue Moon will be especially rare because a lunar eclipse will be taking place, too!
The partial eclipse on January 31st is going to begin around 5:30 A.M. Eastern time, so you’ll have to get up early (or stay up late) to see it. As the moon will be very close to the horizon during the partial eclipse, you’ll need to be somewhere you have an unobstructed view of the horizon toward the Northwest. Being at a higher elevation, too, will give you an even better view.
Supermoons happen several times per year, and not always during a full moon. But, when there is a full moon, it appears 14% larger and 30% brighter than when the full moon occurs at the farthest point in the moon’s orbit.
If it does happen to be cloudy during the supermoons and eclipse or you just want to view them from the comfort of your home, never fear! The Virtual Telescope Project has you covered.