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Howl at a New Year's supermoon to start 2018 right

A rare celestial phenomenon will usher in another year by brightening up the night sky for one more night of celebrating.

An aircraft taking off from Ronald Reagan National Airport is seen passing in front of the Moon as it rises, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017 in Washington. Today's full Moon is the first of three consecutive supermoons. The two will occur on Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, 2018. A supermoon occurs when the moon's orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth at the same time it is full. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls) 
NASA/Bill Ingalls

Supermoon fans had to wait 11 whole months to glimpse the first and only instance of the phenomenon in 2017. There will be no such wait in 2018. The first supermoon of the year will help us all ring in the new year Jan. 1.

A quick primer for the uninitiated: A supermoon occurs when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit, or perigee, at the same time that it's full. The next time this will occur is Monday evening.

While supermoon fanatics and photographers often marvel at the size of the supermoon, it rarely appears to be any more than 15 percent larger in the sky. But it still makes for some worthwhile viewing.

Some Native American tribes refer to the January full moon as the "wolf moon," according to the Farmer's Almanac, so there are apparently plenty of reasons to howl at this supermoon.

If the lunar party gets rained out in your location, don't fear. There will be another opportunity before this month is even out. The next supermoon is Jan. 31, and it'll also be a rare blue moon (a fancy name that just means the second full moon of a calendar month). 

There's also the option to watch live coverage of the supermoon online with commentary from the Slooh Observatory, or even earlier on New Year's Day from the Italy-based Virtual Telescope Project.

As always, if you catch any epic photos of the supermoon, please tweet them my way at @EricCMack.

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