January of 2018 saw a rare celestial event – a ‘Super Blue Blood Moon‘.
It was the first time in nearly 150 years that a supermoon, a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse had all coincided on the same night.
But those constituent parts aren’t so rare when taken on their own, and there are still more supermoons to come in 2018.
What is a supermoon?
When the orbit of the moon aligns with the sun and the Earth in a particular way, it causes an effect called perigee syzygy, which makes the moon appears far bigger in the sky – a supermoon.
The moon itself is not actually growing in size, it is simply a result of the moon’s elliptical orbit around our planet.
An egg-shaped path means that the Moon can be at different distances from the Earth depending on which stage of its orbit it is in.
It can mean a difference of up to 30,000 miles, with the closest point called the perigee, and the furthest the apogee.
Full or new moons at perigee are considered supermoons, with the full variants producing the bigger, more dazzling celestial events.
When is the next one?
Supermoons are not all that rare, and usually occur in sets of three, roughly every 14 months.
We just passed a series of three full supermoons – one in December 2017 and two in January 2018.
But 2018 has another set of three supermoons in store, though being new supermoons, they will likely go unnoticed.
They will occur on the nights of June 13, July 13 and August 11.
How can I see them?
Being new moons – when the lunar disk is not visible to the unaided eye – these summer supermoons will be invisible from the UK.
The only time to see a new moon is when it is silhouetted during a solar eclipse.
It just so happens that a partial solar eclipse will coincide with these supermoons this year, on July 13.
Unfortunately for UK residents, the best place to see it will be the very southern extremities of Australia – or the fringes of Antarctica.
So when is the next visible one?
The next full moon supermoon isn’t too far off, and you shouldn’t have any trouble spotting a moon that appears 14 percent larger and about 30 percent brighter than usual.
This will take place on January 21 2019, the first of a series of three that will see supermoons on the evenings of February 19 and March 21 too.