Biggest, brightest supermoon on show

The supermoon seen rising behind a red lantern in Beijing on January 1. Photo via Reuters
The supermoon seen rising behind a red lantern in Beijing on January 1. Photo via Reuters
The most super of the “supermoon trilogy” will be on show in the sky on Tuesday night.

Nasa is urging sky-watchers to lead their “pack” outside to take in the “wolf moon” as it is known.

It will be the biggest and brightest of the three supermoons set to appear in two months. The first one was on December 3, the second one is January 2 and the third one will be on January 31.

But if you miss tonight’s moon, the January 31 moon will be “extra special”, according to Nasa. 

As well as being a supermoon it will feature a total lunar eclipse, which only happens around twice a year.

A supermoon is a moon that is full and also near its closest point in its orbit around Earth. Since the Moon’s orbit is oval, one side is about 50,000km further from Earth than the other.

When the full moon is on the closer side it appears about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than full moons that occur near the far side in the moon’s orbit.

Noah Petro, a research scientist from Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said the three supermoons were perfect chances to get into skygazing.

“The supermoons are a great opportunity for people to start looking at the Moon, not just that once but every chance they have.”

Moons have a 29.5-day cycle that usually matches up pretty well with the length of a calendar month. Occasionally, there will be two full moons in a month, called a “blue moon”.

This is something that happens about every two-and-a-half years, Nasa reported.

With the total eclipse the January 31 moon will be a “super blue blood moon”.

“Sometimes the celestial rhythms sync up just right to wow us. Heed your calendar reminders. On the three dates marked, step out into the moonset or moonrise and look up for a trilogy of sky watching treats,” Nasa said.

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