January 2018 is going to be a great treat for all the Moon loving sky gazers. The month will showcase two supermoons, a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse.
When the Moon orbits Earth in its elliptical orbit the distance between the two celestial bodies keeps on changing. A supermoon occurs when the Moon's closest approach – perigee— takes place with Earth.
The natural satellite appears to be 30 percent brighter and 14 percent bigger when this astronomical event takes place. This might not get easily noticed by naked eyes because of factors like light pollution.
The last supermoon had occurred on December 3 while the next one will take place on January 1, and followed by another one taking place on January 31.
The supermoon that will occur on January 31 is referred to as blue moon -- it takes place when two full moons occur in the same month. The blue moon occurs around once in two and a half years or so.
The total lunar eclipse will take place on January 31 and the phenomenon will be visible from most of the western US. During a total lunar eclipse, direct sunlight is blocked completely by Earth's shadow.
The phenomenon of Earth blocking the sunlight completely from reaching the Moon causes the lunar eclipse. This astronomical event takes place around twice annually. This event occurs at night during the full moon, turning the Moon dimmer as the Moon loses Sun's reflection falling on it. The Moon reflects light that is scattered by Earth's atmosphere which turns the Moon reddish.
This Moon is often referred to as "blood moon" because of the reddish hue it portrays. Hence this moon will be called "super-blue-blood-moon" and its view will be a treat for all the sky gazers.
"We're seeing all of the Earth's sunrises and sunsets at that moment reflected from the surface of the moon," said Sarah Noble, a program scientist at NASA headquarters.