Mike Lynch’s Skywatch: Halloween on the Blue Moon is coming, well, once on the Blue Moon
If you’re a fan of spooky coincidences, you’ll probably like the fact that the next rare blue moon is due to form on Halloween night.
A blue moon is an additional full moon that takes place, you guessed it, once on a blue moon.
They typically graduate once every two or three years and the next one after Halloween night won’t be until August 23, 2023.
Although it’s called a blue moon, there is no color change in the store for our lunar neighbor. The moon will not suddenly appear with a bluish tint.
Yet on Halloween night, the blue moon is sure to add an extra level of spooky to any fan of the supernatural.
Without a doubt, you’ve all heard the saying “Once in the blue moon”. The astronomical definition of a blue moon has absolutely nothing to do with the moon being blue in color. Everything is related to mathematical probabilities. The synodic period of the moon, an astronomical term, is 29.5 days. This is the time it takes for the moon to undergo all of its phase shape changes. In other words, it is the time interval between full moons. Since the average length of a calendar month is just over 30 days, it is likely that we will have two full moons in a month from time to time. On average, there is a blue moon every two and a half years.
Having a blue moon on Halloween is much rarer. In the last 100 years, this has only happened five times since 1900. The last time this happened was in 2001. It seems like everything else happened in this crazy year of 2020, so why not have a blue moon on Halloween!
No one knows exactly when the term blue moon originated. In literature, it first appeared around 1600 in England during the time of William Shakespeare. It was not defined as today as the second full moon of a calendar month, but as a blue moon appearing visibly, with a little imagination and perhaps a little extra paranoia. Many thought it was a bad omen of global calamities in the near future. Back in the day, Do 2000 and 2012 Mayan fans had to be in the market. The actual or imagined appearance of a blue moon also interfered with the scheduling of church feasts and feast days.
The blue moon was also seen as a symbol of sadness and loneliness. Even the music of the last century reflected this in songs like “Blue Moon”, written in 1934 by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart and recorded by several artists. My favorite version of the song was recorded in 1961 by Marcels, a doo-wop group who really added a twist to the old standby.
The blue moon joins other celestial Halloween figures who roam the night sky on Saturday night. Halloween will be hovering in the night sky all week and for the next several weeks!
There isn’t a big pumpkin in the night sky, but this year we have a very bright planet with a distinct reddish orange glow. It is Mars that shines in the eastern sky as darkness sets in. Mars has been the closest and brightest for over two years, and it won’t be so clear until 2035. On Halloween, Mars will be just 42 million kilometers away.
There are eerie gleams rising in the northeastern sky. This is the famous Pleiades star cluster, or some would say infamous, also known as “Seven Little Sisters”. At this time of year it is also known as the “Halloween Group”. This is because he was born in the northeast and rises high in the sky around midnight. You can’t miss it, as it is easily visible to the naked eye, similar to a miniature Big Dipper. Astronomically, the Pleiades are actually a group of over 100 young stars, over 410 light years apart, which together arose out of a vast cloud of hydrogen gas about 100 million years ago. By the way, if you’re new to this column, a single light year equals almost 6 trillion miles!
Many ancient people worshiped and feared the Pleiades because the cluster was associated with death. When the sky rose around midnight at this time of year, it was believed to be the appropriate time to honor the dead. Some cultures, such as the early Egyptians, believed that whenever the Pleiades reached their peak in the sky, natural disasters, wars, and other calamities could occur. God knows we don’t need any more disasters this year, thank you!
Halloween Blue Moon, Fallback
This week ends with Halloween on October 31, and this year is Saturday, and for the first time since WWII, you’ll see Halloween Blue Moon all over the world.
According to the long-term forecast, the streak of rainy days will finally end on Saturday, with clear skies and the best of the 1950s.
After that, daylight saving time ends at 2:00 am on Saturday, November 1, and it is “reservations” time, with election day approaching on Tuesday, November 3.