The moon is poised to welcome 2018 with quite a show.
The night after the ball drops in Times Square, a much larger one will be rising in the form of a supermoon. It will appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent larger than usual, according to CNN.
Supermoons happen, according to NASA, when a full moon occurs at the same time that the moon’s orbit has brought it closer to the earth, a point called perigee.
The moon’s orbit around the earth is elliptical, NASA says. It can vary in its distance from earth by as much as 30,000 miles. During perigee the moon is roughly 224,000 miles from earth according to Time and Date. At apogee, or its furthest point from the planet, it is about 251,655 miles away.
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The moon will rise in Beaufort County at around 5:23 p.m. on Jan. 1 according to Time and Date, and it will set at 7:44 a.m. the next morning.
“The supermoons are a great opportunity for people to start looking at the Moon, not just that once but every chance they have!” said Noah Petro, a research scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in a statement on the NASA website.
The New Year’s supermoon is the second in a trilogy of them that kicked off on Sunday, Dec. 3 and will conclude on Wednesday, Jan. 31, the space agency said.
According to Sea Sky, the January supermoons will be the only ones to happen in 2018.
The reason supermoons are not more common has to do with orbital dynamics, according to Space.com. Essentially, as the earth orbits the sun, the moon orbits the earth, and the two bodies are always changing directions. This means that the moon is often closest to the earth when it is new, or unlit by the sun.
As neat as it is to kick off the new year with a supermoon, the supermoon at the end of January will be incredibly special, providing a celestial trifecta, according to Space.com. As the second full moon of the month it will be a blue moon, and there will also be a total lunar eclipse that night, providing a rare Super Blue Blood-Moon, according to Space.com.