New year, blue Moon

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The new year will ring in with a pair of wonderful celestial sights, with supermoons that will be visible on the first and last of January. On New Year's Day, we'll also see the first supermoon of 2018. "With the total eclipse, it'll be a royal spectacle indeed: a "super blue blood" Moon". These sites include a few areas in eastern Asia and eastern Australia, where people will not see the first full moon until 2 January.

Native Americans knew the full moon of January as the Wolf Moon, a time when wolves roamed the edges of the village in search of whatever food they might find.

Starting with the first adjective, a supermoon occurs when the moon reaches peak fullness during its perigee, a.k.a. its closest approach to Earth in a single orbit. It'll be the first of 2018 and it will be closely followed by another at the end of the month, the celestial event known as a blue moon.

That supermoon on January 31 also will be a blue moon, which is the name given to any second full moon in one calendar month.

You'll have another chance to catch a supermoon on January 31. Since the Moon's orbital path is oval, one side is approximately 50,000 km far from the Earth. The final installment of the supermoon series will kick off on January 31, which will be "extra special", NASA says. In this case, the Earth, the Sun and the Moon don't generally arrange themselves in a straight line to align the moon in the shadow of the Earth.

As NASA explains it: "The Moon will lose its brightness and take on an eerie, fainter-than-normal glow from the scant sunlight that makes its way through Earth's atmosphere". Another nickname will come into play here, as totally eclipsed moons are sometimes called "blood moons".

These lunar eclipses only ensue about twice a year given that the moon orbits at an angle compared to the Earth, so this precise alignment by itself is an unusual sight indeed. The moon is pretty cool and worth looking at, no matter what: "The supermoons are a great opportunity for people to start looking at the Moon, not just that once but every chance they have!"