First Supermoon of 2018 Coincides With New Year's Day

We won't have to wait too long for 2018's first astronomy event of the year because the first supermoon of the year will arrive on Jan. 1.

While we had just one visible supermoon of 2017, this past December, January 2018 will begin and end with one. After the "wolf moon" on Jan. 1, we will have another supermoon on Jan. 31.

The supermoon happens when the moon reaches its closest point to earth when it's also a full moon. Since the moon's orbit is elliptical and not a perfect circle, this doesn't happen all the time.

As NASA explains, when the supermoon happens, the moon will appear about 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than typical full moons.

The Jan. 31 supermoon is a total lunar eclipse, with a path of totality from western North America to Eastern Asia. This means that the earth, sun and moon will be lined up so that the earth blocks the sun, which usually reflecting off the moon. The moon will look reddish that night.

Plus, the Jan. 31 supermoon is the second full moon of the month. That is usually known as the "Blue Moon," so that night, we'll have a "Super Blue Moon." Blue Moons aren't too rare, happening every two and a half years.

The best time to see the supermoon is right after moonrise, as it reaches above the horizon. You can use TimeAndDate.com to find the time of moonrise for your area.

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In 2017, we saw the "Great American Eclipse," the first time since 1918 that a solar eclipse was visible across the contiguous U.S. There won't be anything like that this year, as the next solar eclipse doesn't happen until July 2019, and that will only be visible in parts of South America and New Zealand. The next solar eclipse visible in the U.S. is in 2024.

Photo credit: NASA