The New Year is just around the corner, and the moon will kick off 2018 bright and big in the sky. On Jan. 1, 2018 is the Wolf Moon, which received its name from Native Americans, who named the moon after the choruses of howling (and breeding) wolves around their communities. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Wolf Moon is also traditionally known as the Old Moon, and also called the Snow Moon by a few Native American tribes. Whatever you refer to the full moon as, you definitely don’t want to miss it. Here’s where you see the Wolf Moon on the first of the new year.
Firstly, depending on where you are in the world, the Wolf Moon actually occurs on different dates. For those people in the United States, the full moon will appear on first day of January at approximately 9:24 P.M. Eastern, according to Space.com. However, people in Asia and Europe can expect to see the Wolf Moon on Jan. 2 at due to the time zone differences. So make sure you have your time zones correct, and double check the day before so you don’t miss the lunar event.
Wherever you are in the Northern Hemisphere, the Full Wolf Moon will be difficult to miss: Though it doesn’t boast any special color changes like a blood moon, it will be bright and piercing in the night sky. Not to mention, the 2018 Full Wolf Moon is a supermoon. In order to be considered a supermoon, “The moon needs to be at its closest approach, or perigee, to the Earth in its 27-day orbit,” and it “needs to be at the full phase, which happens every 29.5 days when the sun fully illuminates the moon.” Basically, this means the Full Wolf Moon will look much larger than your average full moon in a lunar phase cycle. So big, in fact, that for many of us who aren’t avid lunar observers won’t see a noticeable difference in the moon the day before and after the actual Full Wolf Moon.
If you’re in New York City, you’re in for a special treat when it comes to the January full moon. According to Space.com, “Moonrise in New York City that day is at 4:34 P.M. local time, just a few minutes before sunset which happens at 4:39 P.M. So the Wolf moon will briefly share the sky with the sun, though you'll need a view of a relatively flat, unobscured horizon to see it happen.” So as long as have an unobstructed view, you can view the Full Wolf Moon and sun together in the five minute window before total sunset.
In addition to the Full Wolf Moon, a second full moon will take place on Jan. 1, and you won’t want to miss it either. A Blue Moon is a phenomenon that occurs every two-and-a-half years when an additional full moon occurs in any given period — meaning the Blue Moon doesn’t necessarily always occur in winter. In fact, after Jan. 31, the next Blue Moon will not happen until May 2019. Moreover, don’t expect to see a big blue moon if you keep an eye out for this lunar event: Jan. 31 is also the day of the next total lunar eclipse, so the Blue Moon will actually appear more reddish and bloody than, well, blue. A total lunar eclipse can only occur when the sun, Earth, and moon are perfectly aligned, and the Earth blocks the sunlight from reflecting off the surface of the moon.
Even if you’re not super into astronomy, you may want to check out both the Full Wolf Moon on the first day of the New Year, and the Blue moon that will occur later this month. It’s pretty rare to have two moons in one month — and two supermoons at that. So, set your alarm for the correct time, and seek out a clear spot to get a glimpse of the 2018 Full Wolf Moon.