Babe Among the Stars: January's Blue Supermoon

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Galaxy Babe's column banner, showing a full moon and some little folk looking up at the sky

Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth - Ptolemy

Super-duper Moon

The full moon on 31 January 2018 is at perigee, which makes it a 'Supermoon'. This is the 2nd full moon of the month – now colloquially known as a ‘blue moon’. Some lucky people around the world will also witness a total lunar eclipse, typically called a ‘blood moon’ due to the lack of sunlight bouncing off the Moon’s surface. Check out this map for eclipse times and vantage points. Note that this full moon is the Snow Moon which usually occurs in February, just to make this special full moon a bit more unique!

Kepler-90 – a record-breaking 8th exoplanet announced

On 14 December 2017 it was announced that the Kepler spacecraft had detected another world orbiting the sun-like star Kepler-90, bumping its total of planets to eight. This is the first exoplanet to have the designation 'i' after its star name. Kepler-90 i is a super-Earth but it’s as hot as Venus. The planets are given their designations in order of discovery, not distance from their star, which means that their orbits may not be in alphabetical order. At the moment (more may be discovered later which may displace others) the family of planets around Kepler-90 reads: Kepler-90 b, Kepler-90 c, Kepler-90 i, Kepler-90 d, Kepler-90 e, Kepler-90 f, Kepler-90 g, Kepler-90 h. Kepler-90 h resides in the system’s habitable zone. In case you’re wondering, this super-exoplanet system is in the constellation Draco.

January 2018 Diary Dates

Two full moons this month (both supermoons, even if you don’t witness the lunar eclipse), provide great photo opportunities. Try to get to a clear horizon and if possible include a landmark or tree in your image. This is what I’d call a perfect shot!

  • 02: Full Moon – the Wolf Moon – 2nd supermoon in a cycle of three

  • 03: Quadrantids meteor shower peak – likely drowned out by the full moon

  • 17: New Moon

  • 31: Full Moon – the Snow Moon – Total Lunar Eclipse – 3rd supermoon in a cycle of three

  • Chat about your celestial observances at the H2G2 Astronomy Society. Comment on anything in this edition of Babe Among the Stars by starting a new conversation below.

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