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Starwatch: close approach to Earth will bring us a supermoon

But total lunar eclipse on 31 January won’t be visible in UK

Starwatch 29 January 2018

The full moon on 31 January coincides with the Moon’s closest approach to Earth. This means that it will appear slightly larger and therefore slightly brighter than normal. In recent years, this phenomenon has become known as a supermoon. Supermoons are around 7% bigger and up to 30% brighter than other lunar appearances. Although these increases are hardly noticeable to the eye, it is nice to gaze up and know the Moon is near its closest point to Earth, an altitude of around 224,000 miles (360,000km).

During this supermoon, the Moon will pass through Earth’s shadow, causing a total lunar eclipse. It will be visible before sunrise on 31 January from western North America, and because of the international date line, after sunset on 31 January from central and eastern Asia, Indonesia, New Zealand and most of Australia. It will not be visible from the UK.

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