Supermoon, Quadrantids, Blue Moon, Total Lunar Eclipse

January 30, 2018

A Full Moon Supermoon will take place early January 2 (UTC), Earth will reach perihelion (closest point to the Sun) on January 3 and Quadrantid meteor shower will reach its peak on January 4th.

The best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere – New Moon – will be on the night of January 17. Over coming days, the Moon will rise and set an hour later each day, becoming visible in the late afternoon and dusk sky as a waxing crescent which sets soon after the Sun.

The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth at 13:28 UTC on January 31- this will be a Full Moon, Supermoon, and Blue Moon. Three minutes later, at 13:31 UTC, a total lunar eclipse will take place.

January 1 – C/2016 R2 (PANSTARRS) reaches it brightest. Comet C/2016 R2 (PANSTARRS) is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag 11.3. It will lie at a distance of 2.93 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 2.06 AU from the Earth.

January 2 – M41 well placed for observation. The open star cluster M41 (NGC 2287) in Canis Major will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -20°43′, it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 49°N.

January 2 – Mercury at greatest elongation west – 00:40 UTC. Mercury will be well placed for observation in the dawn sky, shining brightly at mag -0.4. Mercury’s orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth’s, meaning that it always appears close to the Sun and is very difficult to observe most of the time. It is observable only for a few days each time it reaches greatest separation from the Sun – moments referred to as greatest elongation. These apparitions take place alternately in the morning and evening skies, depending whether Mercury lies to the east of the Sun or to the west. When it lies to the east, it rises and sets a short time after the Sun and is visible in early evening twilight. When it lies to the west of the Sun, it rises and sets a short time before the Sun and is visible shortly before sunrise. On this occasion, it lies 22° to the Sun’s west.

January 2 – Full Moon, Supermoon – 02:25 UTC. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night. This month’s full moon will take place unusually close to the time of the month when the Moon also makes its closest approach to the Earth – called its perigee. This means the Moon will appear slightly larger and brighter than at other times – Supermoon, though any difference is imperceptible to the unaided eye.

Perigee full moons such as this occur roughly once every 13 months. The sequence of full moons through the year are often assigned names according to the seasons in which they fall. Over the nights following January 2, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon.

At the exact moment when the Moon reaches full phase, it will lie at a declination of +20°04′ in the constellation Gemini, and so will appear highest in the northern hemisphere. It will be visible from all latitudes south of 59°S. Its distance from the Earth will be 356 000 km (221 208 miles). This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Wolf Moon because this was the time of year when hungry wolf packs howled outside their camps. This moon has also been know as the Old Moon and the Moon After Yule. This is also the first of two supermoons for 2018. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.

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