Supermoons, blue moon, lunar eclipse: January to bring dazzling array of spectacles in the night sky, says Nasa

Andrew Griffin
The last Supermoon of 2017 sets over Whitley Bay, Northumberland: PA

Finding one supermoon might be lucky. But running into three counts for a stunning spectacle.

And that's not all: this year will see one of the Supermoons – a so-called Blue Moon – combine with a solar eclipse, making for three special celestial moments in one night. Together, that makes for something Nasa has referred to as the "super blue blood moon".

We've already had one of the three Supermoons, on 3 December. That was the biggest of the year and made for stunning pictures.

But it was just the beginning of a big run of three Supermoons. The other two remaining ones will come on 1 January, and then on 31 January.

All of them will look much larger than normal – about 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than usual. And that will be caused by the fact that moon will be at perigee, or the part of its oval-shaped orbit where it's closest to the Earth.

The Supermoon is in many cases the easiest of all to actually see: it requires no special equipment, lasts all night, and is usually visible even in bad weather and through light pollution. All you have to do is look up at the moon, though it helps to do so as the moon rises or sets so that you get a full view of its huge size.

But if you're only able to catch the one, then Nasa recommends making sure you see the last, on 31 January. The sky is saving the best of the trilogy until last.

That moon will also coincide with a lunar eclipse, where the Earth perfectly moves between the Sun and the Moon, blocking out the light that would normally be reflected from its surface. That will turn the moon darker than normal and give it a strange, eerie look as it loses its light.

Often, the effect of that is to turn the moon red, because of the way that the light bends around the Earth. That has led to lunar eclipses being turned "blood moons", since they take on the same deep red colouring.

The 31 January Supermoon will also be the second full moon in the month, which some people refer to as the Blue Moon. That happens once every two-and-a-half years – though obviously them lining up with a supermoon is even more rare.

All that together has led to the strange name of super blue blood moon, and a pair spectacular sights that will appear at the beginning and end of January.