For something different! Sometimes ya just gotta break up the geopolitics!
On Saturday, January 21, 2023, the New Moon will be precisely 221,561 miles/356,568 km from Earth. As reported by Timeanddate.com, that’s the closest it will come to our planet since the year 1030—a time of the Crusades, the Norman Conquest of Britain and early Vikings settlements in North America, a century ironically sometimes called the “Dark Ages.”
This “ultimate supermoon” also signals the beginning of Chinese Lunar New Year and comes during a rare conjunction between Venus and Saturn that will be best viewed just after sunset in the southwest on Sunday, January 22, 2022.
Why is the Moon suddenly so close?
Our natural satellite in space—which will be completely invisible to us during the cosmic event, leaving a dark sky for stargazers—will be at a smaller distance to Earth than for the last 992 years.
This so-called “Supermoon” (officially a perigee New Moon)—the opposite to a “Micro Moon” (officially called an apogee New Moon)—is therefore a very rare occurrence, but it’s part of a normal pattern.
This close Moon’s influence on our tides will be especially strong. Combined with the influence of the Sun on the same side of Earth the result will be powerful “king” tides in coastal areas between January 20-25, likely peaking on January 23.
The Moon’s orbit of Earth
The Moon’s orbital path around Earth is a slight ellipse, so each month there’s a near-point (perigee) and a far-point (apogee). At perigee the Moon appears a little larger in the sky than the average apparent size (a “supermoon”), and at apogee, a little smaller (a “micromoon”). When either occurs at New Moon there’s nothing to see at all.
This uniqueness of this weekend’s apogee New Moon was noticed by Astrophysicist & Science Communicator Graham Jones at Timeanddate.com, who looked into the closest Earth-Moon distances at New Moon over a 2,000-year period. He discovered three New Moons where the distance was less than 356,570 km (221,562 miles)—in 1030, this weekend and in 2368.
That makes this weekend’s New Moon the closest since 1030 and the closest in a period of 1,337 years.