CELESTIAL OBJECTS COME AND GO FROM OUR VIEW IN THE NIGHT SKY. Whether it be the Full Moon, a meteor shower, or just the best night to see Mars, we're here to direct your eyes skyward and tell you to look up and appreciate the wonders of space from Earth.
This week, we're asking you to marvel at the wonder of the Blue Moon, which happens to fall on the spookiest night of the year.
Despite what the name may suggest, the Blue Moon is not actually blue in color.
Rather, a Blue Moon is the name given to a second Full Moon in a single calendar month. The first Full Moon of this month fell on October 1, and the second one will fall on October 31.
The last time we witnessed this kind of Blue Moon was on March 31, 2018 and the next one will fall on August 22, 2021. The Blue Moon's rarity inspired the saying, 'once in a Blue Moon.'
So how can there be 13 full Moons in one calendar year?
The Moon completes a full orbit around the Earth in 27.3 days, adding up to 354.36 days in a lunar year. During its trip around the Earth, the Moon embarks on eight different phases.
At the beginning of its cycle, the Moon is on the same side of the Earth as the Sun, with its dark side facing our planet. As a result, it is almost invisible to us — this is the New Moon. Then, a small sliver of the Moon’s crescent gradually appears in our skies as it waxes to become a Full Moon at the peak of its cycle. After that, it begins to wane into invisibility once more, before beginning anew, 29 and a half days after the preceding New Moon.
A Full Moon is when the Earth is wedged between the Sun and the Moon at exactly opposite ends. As a result, the side of the Moon facing the Earth becomes fully illuminated by the Sun’s beaming light.
But the Earth orbits around the Sun in a little bit over 365 days — 365.25 days to be exact. Every two to three years, there's a slight gap in the year where a 13th full Moon sneaks its way in.
Not only is this year's 13 full Moons a rare sight, the Blue Moon also happens to fall on the night of Halloween.
As you enjoy the spooky festivities of the night, be sure to look up at the large, fully illuminated Blue Moon as it hangs above us in the night sky.