Home NewsAntarctica What is a ‘black moon’? Why May’s new moon has an unusual name.

What is a ‘black moon’? Why May’s new moon has an unusual name.

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On Friday, Might 19, the 12 months’s solely “black moon” will rise within the sky — and there can be exactly nothing to see. That is as a result of Earth’s  pure satellite tv for pc will drift proper into the glare of the solar, signalling a brand new moon. So, why the mysterious title?

The time period “black moon” has a number of meanings — none of them astronomical however all of which happen solely as soon as each few years. 

The definition that most closely fits this month’s occasion is a “seasonal black moon” — the third new moon in a season with 4 new moons. That is one thing that solely occurs each 33 months or so, in keeping with Timeanddate.com (opens in new tab)

Every astronomical season on Earth begins and ends with a solstice and an equinox. This present season, spring within the Northern Hemisphere and fall within the Southern Hemisphere, started with the vernal equinox on March 20, 2023. Crucially, that was additionally the date of a brand new moon. As a brand new moon happens each 29.5 days — the time it takes for the moon to finish one orbit of Earth — there’s loads of time for 3 different new moons to happen earlier than the summer season solstice on June 21, 2023. 

The brand new moon dates this season are: Tuesday, March 21; Thursday, April 20; Friday, Might 19; and Sunday, June 18. That third new moon is that this month’s “black moon.”

The time period black moon can be used to explain different, separate lunar occasions. Simply as a blue moon is the second full moon in the identical calendar month — additionally made potential by the moon’s 29.5-day orbit of Earth — the second new moon in the identical calendar month is usually known as a black moon. That may occur about each 32 months, in keeping with Almanac.com (opens in new tab).

Black moon may also be used to explain the uncommon prevalence of a month having both no new moon or no full moon, in keeping with Timeanddate.com. That may solely happen in February — the one month brief sufficient to start and finish between two new moons or two full moons. That is one thing that occurs as soon as each 5 to 10 years, in keeping with Almanac.com.

Though a black moon is not one thing you’ll be able to see as a result of the a part of the moon going through us is in shadow, it does imply the evening skies are freed from moonlight, making them excellent for stargazing. Within the evenings after the brand new moon — on Might 19, 20 and 21 — look to the west after sundown and you will see a slender crescent moon rising after 2023’s solely black moon. 


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