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Philippines Supermoon

The supermoon offered a stunning start to 2018

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Updated January 02, 2018 01:09 PM EST

A supermoon greeted sky gazers on the first night of 2018.

NASA said Monday night's moon appeared 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than it did on July 27 last year. That was when the moon was at its furthest point from Earth in its orbit.

The space agency said last night's moon might well be the largest moon of the year, but there will still be some interesting ones to see.

At the end of January we'll be getting a second full moon in the same month - a rare phenomenon called a blue moon. Even more special is the fact that it'll be a total lunar eclipse for some in the U.S. - a combination that hasn't happened for 150 years.

Happy New Year! And Happy 'Supermoon!'

Tonight we will experience the first full moon of the New Year. It is also called the Wolf Moon, the Old Moon or the Moon After Yule.

Actually the term 'supermoon' is not a legitimate astronomical term. It has become a term that is applied to any full moon that is within about 223,000 miles of Earth, or six percent closer than its average distance. All planets and most moons in the solar system have elliptical, not circular, orbits.

But because the Moon’s orbit is elliptical, sometimes it's closer to Earth (perigee) and sometimes it is farther (apogee.) When a full Moon and the point closest to the Earth line up, we get a supermoon.

“The supermoons are a great opportunity for people to start looking at the Moon, not just that once but every chance they have!” says Noah Petro, a research scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

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