Super Blue Blood Moon
January 2018 is a treat for Moon-gazers (lunatics?) like myself: a supermoon, a Blue moon, and a total lunar eclipse all within the same month.
The first full Moon of the month will ring in the new year, on the night of January 1st*. January has two full Moons in 2018, or a "Blue Moon"**, with the second appearing on the night of January 31st for viewers in Europe and the US.
On the night of January 30th, the Moon will be at the closest position in its orbit to Earth (approximately 358,994 kilometers away, as opposed to the average 384,400 km, creating a "supermoon", or full Moon with slightly larger angular size.
The right-hand Moon shows the apparent size of a "supermoon" (closest approach) compared to a "micromoon" (farthest approach).
But the real showpiece this January is the total lunar eclipse (or "blood moon") occurring during the Blue supermoon, visible
(Really nice infographic from NASA)
For those of us in Europe, the eclipse will begin before Moonrise, but should still make a dramatic entrance when rising in the afternoon of January 31st.
* A full Moon in the month of January is officially known as the Wolf Moon. I find full Moon naming conventions fun, so take a look here to read them all.
** Not an indicator of the Moon's pigmentation, but rather thought to be an etymological descendant of an Old English term meaning "betrayer". It refers to an extra full Moon occurring within a single month.
** The "current" meaning of "Blue Moon" is the second full moon in the month. However, that is actually a mistake, originating from an article published in 1946, which got its facts wrong. That was then picked up by a television programme, which made the usage wide-spread.ReplyDelete
The earliest use of the term "blewe" dates to a 16th Century reference, which makes it early modern English or, perhaps, middle English. The possible "betrayer" link is with the word "belewe". Yes, it may have come from Old English, but Old English had sort of faded out after the Norman conquest in the 11th Century. The Old English etymological root of "blewe" is not certain.
Unfortunately, or perhaps fascinatingly, the term Blue Moon has a much more convoluted lineage than at first thought.