Perigee Syzygy Opens Exciting 60 Days in Astronomy

Perigee Syzygy, Science, Supermoon

The moon appearing close to the horizon on December 2. 2017, appeared 7 percent larger and 14 percent brighter than most new moons. While most people will call the new moon a supermoon, astronomers have dubbed it a perigee syzygy.

Of course, the moon has actually not grown in size. It is an optical illusion as things close to the horizon appear larger. The moon revolves around the earth in an oval or elliptical pattern. This moon is the closest that the moon will get to the earth in 2017. It will still be about 222,761 miles from earth. The closest the moon has ever been to the earth occurred in 1948, and it will not occur again until 2034.

If you missed this perigee-syzygy, then you will not have to wait long to see the next one as two will occur in January 2018. The first will happen on January 3 while the second one will occur on January 31, which will also be a Blue Moon since its the second moon in a month, and a lunar eclipse.

Astronomers are excited about other events to occur in January 2018. The year will start with Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. Mercury will be at its highest in the predawn sky. Just two days later on January 3, the only Quadrantids Meteor Shower of the year will occur. This event will be most visible in the Northwestern United States with the peak expected to occur about 10 PM in the Central Time Zone. It may be difficult to see, however, because of the closest full moon of the year.

The month will end with another Supermoon, which will also have a lunar eclipse. Areas just outside of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago have the best chance of seeing this eclipse. The eclipse will begin about 4:51 on January 31, 2018. Some parts of the path may not be able to see the entire event as the moon drops below the horizon.

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