The night sky will add an extra touch to this Halloween as it features a scene that hasn’t happened in nearly two decades.
Halloween is shaped a lot differently this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with some communities choosing to cancel a trick or treat to reduce the risk of the virus spreading from home to home. But in neighborhoods where little disguises go door to door to collect candy, they will have a bright full moon to help light the way.
It wouldn’t be a typical full moon either – it would be a blue moon.
Contrary to its name, the blue moon does not appear blue. It is simply the nickname given to the second full moon in a calendar month. However, the moon can take on different colors such as orange and red when it is near the horizon, similar to the way the sky can turn vibrant colors when the sun is near the horizon.
“The modern understanding of Blue Moon only began in the 1980s. It was the result of a much earlier error published in the 1946 issue of Sky & Telescope, and since then, the term has spread in the media,” explained the Old Farmer’s Calendar.
The first full moon rose in October on the first of the month and was one of the most famous moons of the full year: The Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is the nickname given to the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox and usually lights up in September, but 2020 was one of the cases where it appeared in early October.
According to NASA, blue moons like the moon occur approximately once every two and a half years. This violation is how the phrase “once in a blue moon” appeared.
Those who are superstitious may want to carry the good fortune magic on October 31 and keep it on hand as Friday the 13th in November approaches.
How rare is a full moon glow in Halloween?
The blue moon of Halloween is being described as a rare celestial event by some, which leaves people wondering just how uncommon this event is compared to a typical blue moon.
“On average, every 19 years, on average, there is a full moon on Halloween,” NASA said. “In fact, every Halloween moon is also a blue moon.”
The last time a full moon lit the sky was on Halloween night in 2001; However, clouds obscured the frightening sight of people across the northeast, northern plains and along the Highway 5 corridor in the Pacific Northwest.
Trick-or-treaters this year might have kids the next time the blue moon falls on Halloween, which will happen in 2039.
Wherever cloud-free conditions prevail, there will be more to see in the sky than just the moon.
Three bright planets will be visible after dark, including Mars to the right of the moon and Jupiter and Saturn side by side in the southern sky.
Setting up a telescope and getting a good look at these planets could be a fun night out for families who aren’t planning to trick or treat this year due to the pandemic, even though no telescope is needed to see the three planets.
Even looking at the moon through a telescope or a simple pair of binoculars can reveal the countless craters that blanket Earth’s natural satellite surface.
Another kind of blue moon?
The second full moon in a calendar month is the most common definition of a blue moon, but there is another way for a full moon to qualify for this title.
Instead of looking at the number of full moons in a month, a blue moon can be found when looking at the number of full moons in a season. Usually, there will be three full moons each season, but this is not always the case.
“If a season had four full moons instead, the third (not fourth) full moon in the season might be called a blue moon,” said the old farmer’s calendar.
Just like a calendar blue moon, seasonal blue moons occur every few years, and the next moon is due to rise on August 22, 2021.
Because there are two types of blue moons, it is possible to have a calendar blue moon and a seasonal blue moon in the same year, but there will be another 17 years before star-watchers see the celestial double feature.