The sky will put on one heck of a show Saturday night as the New Moon will be the closest it’s ever been to us in centuries. According to recent information from timeanddate.com, Saturday’s moon hasn’t gotten this close to Earth since the middle ages, nearly 1,000 years ago, during this time of the Crusades and early Vikings settlements in North America. Ironically, the century was called the “Dark Ages.”
In addition, after Saturday, the moon won’t be this close to us for another 345 years— meaning you probably won’t get another chance to bear witness to this stellar sight.
Per reports from the website later reviewed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the last time a new moon got this close to us was December 3, 1030 CE.
New Moon won’t get this close to Earth again for another 345 years
On January 21, you can see the moon’s approach when it will sit just 221,561 miles from Earth. In addition, you may want to clear your schedule as you’ll have to wait until January 20, 2368, to experience it again.
So why is this happening? According to experts, the moon’s orbit around isn’t a perfect circle, as you might have previously thought. Instead, the orbit is elliptical, resulting in the moon drifting further or closer to us. Scientists say the moon’s most extreme point is the “apogee,” and the moon’s closest approach is the “perigee.”
“If perigee or apogee coincides with a New Moon or Full Moon – when the Earth, Moon, and Sun are in alignment – the Moon’s closest and farthest distances become more extreme,” said a spokesperson from timeanddate.
In addition, the most intense Earth-to-Moon distances occur when the Earth is closest to the sun. That event already took place earlier this year on January 4.
As we’ve already mentioned, you’re not going to want to miss this as the New Moon phase happens when the moon vanishes from our eyes for a few days, essentially becoming impossible to look at with the naked eye. In addition, supermoons and micromoons affect our tides.
More celestial events to occur this weekend
Beyond the incredible close encounter with the new moon, there will be more astronomical events this weekend. For instance, on Sunday, January 22, Venus will pass within 0.34 degrees of Saturn— which is less than the width of a pinky held at arm’s length. Before, on Friday, Jupiter will be closest to the sun.
This weekend’s apogee New Moon was first discovered by Astrophysicist & Science Communicator Graham Jones from Timeanddate, who studied the closest Earth-Moon distances at New Moon over 2,000 years.
He discovered three New Moons where the distance was less than 221,562 miles: in 1030, this Saturday, and 2368.