2018 started off strong with the first full moon of the year, also known as the full wolf moon, taking place on January 1.
If that felt a little anti-climactic to you, the event at the end of the month will likely change your mind. This Wednesday, January 31, a second full moon, which will feature a total lunar eclipse, also known as a blood moon, will rise. Both of January's full moons are also supermoons.
The January 1 full moon reached peak fullness at 9:24 p.m. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, Native American tribes named the moon the full wolf moon because of the wolves who would howl in hunger around the time of its rising. The moon has also been called the Old Moon and the Snow Moon.
When two full moons occur in the same month, the second is known as a Blue Moon. This term is not an official one — nor does it mean that the January 31 moon is actually blue. The earliest reference in the 1940s, which has stuck, was originally a mistake. The Old Farmer's Almanac reports that Blue Moon happen about every 30 months, because the moon's period of phases lasts 29.5 days and some months of the calendar year are longer.
The January 31 Blue Moon may actually look slightly red because it coincides with a total lunar eclipse. During a total lunar eclipse, the earth's shadow covers the moon. According to Space.com, the moon's red appearance is caused by red light that is bent as it passes through the Earth's atmosphere and reflects onto its surface. The best views of the fully eclipsed moon will take place in Chicago and states on the west, since on the east coast, the full moon reaches its peak during the day, at 8:27 a.m.
This piece has been updated since it was originally published.