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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 6:49 EDT

January Will Be A Super Month For Supermoons

December 30, 2013
Image Credit: Thinkstock

[ Watch the Video: Two Supermoons Expected In January 2014 ]

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

Astronomy enthusiasts will be able to ring in the new year with a January 1 supermoon – one of two that will occur during the first month of 2014, and the first of five that will take place before the end of the calendar year.

The second supermoon will occur on January 30, according to Bruce McClure of Earthsky. However, the moon will be at the new phase on both days, meaning that very few people will actually be able to see the phenomena.

“At the vicinity of new moon, the moon hides in the glare of the sun all day long, rising with the sun at sunrise and setting with the sun at sunset,” McClure explained, noting that the people living in far-western North America or on islands in the Pacific Ocean “might be able to spot an extremely-thin young moon with binoculars after sunset.”

“Why western North America? That’s the last largely populated time zone before January 2 dawns at the International Date Line,” he added. “By the time the sun sets there, the moon will have had time to pull some distance away from the sun on the sky’s dome… so careful observers might spot it!”

By definition, a supermoon does not require the moon to be full, McClure said. Richard Nolle, the astrologer credited with inventing the term, defined them as any moon at or within 90 percent of its closest approach to Earth (361,863  kilometers), meaning that the January 1 and January 30 moons technically qualify.

While it might be disappointing that neither January supermoon will be largely visible, it is interesting to note that this will be the last time that two will occur in a single calendar month until January 2018. Fortunately, the three remaining 2014 supermoons — which will occur in July, August and September — will all be full moons.

On the morning of June 23, 2013, the moon was in a nearly full moon phase when it was at its closest point, also known as perigee. According to redOrbit’s Dr. John P. Mills, at 7:32am on that day, the moon was closer to Earth than it was at any point during the year, resulting in a more impressive supermoon than can be expected this Wednesday.

Even so, Dr. Mills said that the June 23 supermoon was “actually not that great,” and that better ones would be coming in the years ahead. “The best one of the century won´t happen until December 6, 2052,” he added, “and the Moon will not cross within 356,400 kilometers until January 1, 2257 (356,371 km).”


Source: redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

January Will Be A Super Month For Supermoons