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What's Going On? Strange Halloween Black Moon Explained

Nov 03, 2016 05:41 AM EDT
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Watch: Moon blots sun out of sky as total solar eclipse mesmerises US

With the "Black Moon" spooking out some from above, Halloween became extra creepy this year. But is there really a "Black Moon" or is it just a story made up by pop culture to live up to the spooky Halloween tradition?

According to Space.com, a "Black Moon" is supposedly the opposite of a "Blue Moon:" the second new moon in a single calendar month. It was seen this year on Sept. 30 in the Western Hemisphere; after midnight on the calendar date of Oct. 1 in the Eastern Hemisphere (Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia); and on Oct. 31 in the Eastern Asia, Japan, Australia or New Zealand.

As mentioned by Science Alert, a new moon occurs when the side of the moon gleamed by the Sun is facing away from Earth. It is the opposite of full moon, which occurs when the Earth-facing side of the moon is completely illumined by the sun.

Because New Moon phase is almost always black, "Black Moon," became the popular name for this lunar phenomenon.

Can you see the "Black Moon"? As explained by National Geographic, it's almost impossible to see a true new moon because it rises and sets very close to the sun, making it disappear due to its glare. During solar eclipse, when the new moon passes directly between Earth and the sun, is the only time you can easily see a new moon.

Typically, new moons occur only once a month, but because there's a slight difference between the moon's phases and the Gregorian calendar, there are instances when two new moons appear in one month.

Earth Sky notes that a unique kind of "Black Moon," the third of four new moons in one season will happen in August 21, 2017. It will mark the first total solar eclipse since the year 1918.

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