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First supermoon of 2018 coincides with New Year’s Day

WASHINGTON — There will be more than just fireworks lighting up the night sky this New Year’s.

According to NASA, January’s first full moon — nicknamed the wolf moon — will take place on Jan. 1 and it will be a supermoon. It’ll be the first of 2018 and it will be closely followed by another just weeks later.

A supermoon occurs when the moon appears bigger and brighter in the sky. A supermoon occurs when the moon becomes full on the same day that it reaches its perigree, the point in the moon’s elliptical orbit when it is closest to Earth.

During these events, the moon generally appears to be 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than a typical full moon. They typically occur around every 13 months, according to NASA.

But Monday’s supermoon won’t be the biggest event in January. On Jan. 31, there will be another supermoon to light up the sky — making it a “blue supermoon.”

As NASA notes, some call the second full moon in a single month a blue moon, and they occur about every 2 1/2 years.

The Jan. 31 supermoon, according to the space agency, will also feature a total lunar eclipse — when the Earth, sun and moon line up in such a way that the Earth blocks the sunlight that would otherwise reflect off the moon.

So the moon won’t be as bright, but it will “take on an eerie, fainter-than-normal glow,” NASA says, and could take on a “reddish hue.”

That celestial event will be visible from western North America, including Colorado, through the Pacific Ocean to eastern Asia, NASA said.

January’s supermoons will be just the latest in a spate of supermoon events taking place in close succession. The last one occurred on Dec. 3.

The best time to see the full supermoon is right after moonrise, when it is just getting up above the horizon.

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