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Celebrate New Year’s Day by checking out the supermoon

Stealing the show for the first sunset of 2018 is the rising full wolf supermoon, which occurs at about 5 p.m. Monday. See photos.

WASHINGTON — As the new year begins, cold temperatures and clear skies mark the D.C. area. Stealing the show for the first sunset of 2018 is the rising full wolf supermoon, which occurs at about 5 p.m. Monday.

This will be the largest and brightest full moon for the entire year as it will be only four hours from its closest approach to Earth for all of 2018. To experienced moon watchers, the moon may appear brighter and a bit larger than other full moons.

The moon will be at full phase (directly opposite the sun) at 9:24 p.m. EST and at perigee as it is rising (closest to the Earth for the month) at 5 p.m. EST — less than 24 hours apart, hence the Supermoon.

This time of year will also make this supermoon brighter, as explained by NASA, “because the Earth will be at its closest to the sun (called perihelion) in early January (Jan. 3 at 1 a.m. EST), the sunlight reaching and reflecting off the moon this time of year is about 7 percent more intense (than at the farthest point from the sun, aphelion, in early July), making wintertime supermoons even brighter.”

Go out the night of Dec. 31, 2017 and enjoy the almost full wolf supermoon. Another supermoon arrives in January 2018 — and the second being a blue moon — that will also undergo a total lunar eclipse. For the D.C. area, it will only be a partial lunar eclipse before sunrise.

Oh, and when looking at the moon, wink at it in remembrance of Neil Armstrong — first human to walk on the moon.

Follow Greg on Twitter @skyguyinva and his daily blog to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. Email him at skyguyinva@gmail.com.

This article was first published on Dec. 31, 2017. It was updated Jan. 1, 2018 with the latest photos. 


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