January 2018 is a month of lunar events.
First, there’s a full moon on Jan. 1 for the Northern Hemisphere. That January full moon is called the Wolf Moon, a name credited to hungry howling wolves that were often heard this time of year.
But that doesn’t seem like such a big deal. After all, we get one full moon every month; that’s how the lunar cycles work. Well, not in January! Because there’s another full moon Jan. 31. It’s actually a Blue Moon, the name given to a month’s second full moon.
This Blue Moon will be special since it will occur during a total lunar eclipse. This means not only will we have a Blue Moon in January, but for the western U.S., Hawaii and half of Asia, the moon will also be a blood red color as it enters the deepest part of the eclipse.
A supermoon is the term given to the moon when it’s at its closest to Earth in its orbit, which varies a little bit since the moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle. This January’s supermoon will appear about 11 percent larger than usual, according to Space.com.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon, the sun and Earth are aligned, and Earth’s shadow is cast on the moon. The spooky red color happens because the red light that passes through our atmosphere is bent. Space.com suggests thinking of the atmosphere as a lens that shines the light onto the moon, creating that crimson coloring, even though the moon is completely in a shadow.