The first new moon of 2023 takes place on Saturday, January 21. On the very same night, we’ll be getting a “supermoon,” which is when the moon is at its closest to the earth. But this isn’t any ordinary supermoon; it’s the closest the moon will be to earth in the past 992 years, as well as the closest it will be for another 345 years!
A new moon may not be visible since it is passing between the earth and the sun, but the darkened skies (and a forecast of zero cloud cover) will be perfect for watching the stars.
Why Is It Called A Supermoon?
“Supermoon” was coined by Richard Nolle in 1979. Since the moon’s orbit is in the shape of an oval rather than a perfect circle, there are some periods when it’s further away or closer to earth. When it is at its very closest, the moon appears much larger (and, during full supermoons, brighter).
Why Can’t We See A New Moon?
The moon doesn’t give off any light on its own, but instead, it reflects sunlight. So during a new moon (it passes between the earth and the sun), the moon’s side facing us has no sunlight to reflect. The only chance we have to see a new moon is when it causes an eclipse.
Full supermoons, on the other hand, are extremely bright because it is the earth’s turn to pass between the sun and the moon. So we get the full reflection of the sun’s rays in addition to the moon passing close to the earth.
The Cultural Significance Of The New Moon
The first new moon of the year signifies the start of the Lunar New Year! This means that the day following the new moon (Sunday, January 22) marks the start of the Year of the Rabbit with the Chinese New Year. The Lunar New Year is also celebrated in countries like Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia.
The closest supermoon in nearly 1,000 years is something you won’t want to miss. And look out for the first full supermoon of 2023, lighting up the sky on August 31. Not only will it be the closest and brightest full supermoon of the year, but also a blue moon!