Super 'Wolf Moon' to rise

If you're planning to stay up late for a third night in a row after New Year's Eve, you're in for a treat - a 'Wolf Moon' that doubles as a supermoon.

It's the second of what NASA has dubbed the 'Supermoon Trilogy' - three supermoons in quick succession.

The moon's orbit is elliptical, and when it's at its closest to Earth it appears 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than normal - hence the 'supermoon' title.

The first of the trilogy came early in December, the second is Tuesday night, and the third, January 31.

Tuesday's supermoon is also a 'wolf moon' - a full moon in January - while the third supermoon is also a 'blue moon' (the second full moon in a calendar month) and from New Zealand's perspective, also a 'blood moon' (in eclipse).

It's called a 'blood moon' because light passing through the Earth's atmosphere is bent into a red hue.

Blue moons aren't actually blue - it's just a name.

Lunar eclipses happen about twice a year, but aren't visible from everywhere on Earth. Blue moons occur every two-and-a-half years.


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