January 01

supermoon Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/63764654@N00/9114950837 Photo Credit: Joe (my soul) [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0], via Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/63764654@N00/ 9114950837

Today in Science


Tonight's full moon, rising at 10:24 p.m. EST, is the second of three consecutive supermoons. The first was Dec. 3, 2017.

What makes these moons so super? A supermoon, or "perigee moon," appears when a full or new moon is at its closet point to the Earth during its oval-shaped orbit. This point is called a perigee, which means "near Earth." Full perigee moons look especially big and bright in the night sky, appearing up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than the moon does at other points in its orbit.

If you miss today's supermoon, you can catch the final one on Jan. 31, a blue moon, when people in western North America, eastern Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Ocean also will be treated to a full lunar eclipse.

Students can learn more about the phases of the moon and the complete lunar cycle. Or they can discover the story of the people who worked behind the scenes of the Apollo missions. Do they have what it takes to land on the moon? They can test their piloting skills with Gravity Launch, explore the night sky with Planet Apps, or see how the size of the moon compares with other objects in our solar system. Do they know some scientists think we should build solar power stations on the moon? For more, check out our Celebrating Space Exploration collection.

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