When is the January supermoon 2018?
Stargazers heading into the new year are expecting to see not one, but two spectacular supermoons in January.
The first of the two, and the largest of the year, will rise in the late evening hours on new Year’s Day – January 1.
Unfortunately viewers in the Eastern hemisphere will have to wait until the following night for a repeat of the show.
The incredible spectacle of nature comes just weeks after the December supermoon on December 3, bid farewell to 2017.
Thereafter moon gazers will only have to wait until January 31 to witness an exciting third supermoon alongside a partial lunar eclipse.
Noah Petro, a research scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, teased: “The supermoons are a great opportunity for people to start looking at the moon, not just that once but every chance they have!”
What is the best time to see the January supermoon?
Fireworks will not be the only thing to light up the night on New Year’s Day, because the supermoon could be up to 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger.
The best time to catch the supermoon in the wild, is just after moonrise when the skies are dark.
Time differences between the Eastern and Western hemisphere mean that viewers in the UK will have to wait until January 2.
But once it rises in the night sky, British stargazers should be prepared to see the supermoon peak at around 2.24am GMT, accordant to Royal Observatory Greenwich.
The Observatory has however warned that the moon will peak only for the briefest of moments, and if you miss it, then it will not look all that different compares to the proviso night.
As long as there is no thick cloud cover in the sky on the night, the Observatory advises that the moon will remain an “unmistakable white orb in the sky”.
This is good news for astronomy enthusiasts, because it means that you can safely ditch the telescopes and binoculars and see the moon with your own two eyes.
What is a supermoon?
According to Lyle Tavernier from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab, supermoons occur whenever a full moon is at its closest to Earth, a lunar stage known as a perigee.
Because the moon’s orbit around Earth is elliptical and not perfectly round, the moon comes closer and further away from the planet throughout the year.
Mr Tavernier said: “Full moons can occur at any point along the Moon’s elliptical path, but when a full moon occurs at or near the perigee, it looks slightly larger and brighter than a typical full moon.
“That’s what the term ‘supermoon’ refers to.”
But the term is only used when a full moon reaches within 10 percent of its perigee to Earth.
On the other end of the spectrum, a micromoon appears whenever a full moon rises during a lunar apogee – when it is at its furthest from Earth.