Learn more about the series of supermoons headed for the celestial stage

A supermoon will appear in the night sky on Jan. 1 and 31, 2018. This NASA video takes a look at the science behind these amazing celestial events.
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A supermoon will appear in the night sky on Jan. 1 and 31, 2018. This NASA video takes a look at the science behind these amazing celestial events.
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National

Get ready: Two ‘supermoons’ are heading your way this January

By Emily Zentner

ezentner@sacbee.com

December 31, 2017 10:37 AM

Mark your calendars and claim your prime stargazing spot, because two supermoons are heading to a night sky near you on Jan. 1 and 31, 2018.

A supermoon is a moon that is at or near its closest point to Earth in its orbit when it reaches its full stage. As the moon’s orbit is elliptical, one side of the orbit is farther from the earth than the other. Full moons on the closer side of the orbit, called the perigee, appear 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than full moons in the further stage, called apogee, according to NASA.

“The supermoons are a great opportunity for people to start looking at the moon, not just that once but every chance they have!” said Noah Petro, a research scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in a press release.

It’s hard for humans’ eyes to see these small changes amid the vast night sky, but these supermoons will make you do a double-take as it seems almost as if you could “reach out, grab the glowing orb and drop it into your coffee cup,” according to a NASA press release.

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The Jan. 31 supermoon will be an extra special one, as it will feature a total solar eclipse during moonset as well. The eclipse will be viewable in totality from western North America across the Pacific to Eastern Asia as the moon takes on an eerie, fainter glow, according to NASA. Totally eclipsed moons cast a reddish hue and are sometimes called “blood moons.”

Jan. 31’s supermoon will also be special as it will be a “blue moon,” or the second full moon in one month, making it a rare “super blue blood moon,” according to NASA.

For more information on skywatching events throughout the year, visit science.nasa.gov.

Emily Zentner: 916-321-1074, @emilymzentner