Super Start to 2018: New Year’s Day Supermoon

supermoon size comparison
The biggest supermoon, as seen from Earth, is compared to the smallest it appears when farthest from us.

If skies are clear New Year’s Day, the moon will be delightfully large and bright as it edges over the horizon right around sunset.

This first full moon of 2018 will be a supermoon—the result of the moon’s orbit around Earth being an imperfect circle. When the moon is nearest Earth, it can appear 14 percent larger, and 30 percent brighter, than when it’s at its farthest orbital point.

Moonrise will be at 5:31 p.m.―perhaps earlier if you’re on an east-facing hillside, or later if your view is blocked by a mountain. (The sight will be similar Jan. 2, when the moon rises at 6:37 p.m., still 97.6 percent full.)


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Perhaps you’ve noticed before how the moon seems bigger on the horizon than later, when it’s higher up. This is just an illusion. Find out why your brain is fooled, and how to prove it’s an illusion, here.

Supermoons aren’t particularly rare—it’s a normal astronomical occurrence with a fancy name. But something rare will happen Jan. 31: The month’s second full moon, which will also be a supermoon, will involve a total lunar eclipse. Now that’s a cosmic event you won’t want to miss.

SOURCES: NASA; timeanddate.com

supermoon north phoenix
NoPho resident Stefanie Goldstein, 13, photographed the Dec. 3 supermoon in the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve using a Canon EOS Rebel T5i/EOS 700D with a Canon EF-S55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II lens.
supermoon and airplane
An airplane flew in front of a supermoon as it rose over the LBJ Presidential Library Nov. 14, 2016, in Austin, Texas. Photo by Jay Godwin
Robert Roy Britt
NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels.
Robert Roy Britt on Email

Robert Roy Britt

NoPho resident Robert Roy Britt has written for In&Out publications since its inception in 2005. Britt began his journalism career in New Jersey newspapers in the early 1990s. He later became a science writer and was editor-in-chief of the online media sites Space.com and Live Science. He has written four novels.

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