Rare black moon rises this week and won’t happen again for years

A celestial event not seen since 2014 occurs this week when a rare black moon rises Friday at 8:11 p.m.

The full moon is shown during the lunar eclipse on Sunday, September 27, 2015. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

The full moon is shown during the lunar eclipse on Sunday, September 27, 2015. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

A black moon is defined as the second new moon to occur in a single month. It’s an unusual event and one that won’t happen again in the western hemisphere until July 2019.

Because a new moon is the moment when the moon’s earth-facing side is fully in shadow, it’s not something that can be easily seen with the naked eye.

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“At its ‘new moon’ phase, the moon is always black,” according to Space.com. “It happens at that time of the month when the moon passes through the same part of the sky as the sun and as such, the moon’s dark or unilluminated side faces Earth. So there really is nothing to see.”

Read: Debate rages about whether September’s harvest moon was a super moon

Today, the moon is in its waning crescent phase, just 11 percent full and hanging in the eastern early morning skies.

John Rao, a columnist for Space.com, said the black moon gets short shrift when it comes to moon hype.

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“Unlike a ‘supermoon’ which gets countless numbers of people scurrying for vantage points to see a slightly larger and slightly brighter-than-average full moon, with a Black Moon, you simply can’t see it,” Rao wrote. “In my opinion, this is the chief reason why Black Moon is going to have a tough time in becoming a popular media brand. ”

The moon won’t hide for long. By Oct. 2, a sliver of a waxing crescent moon should become visible.

While some astronomers frown on giving nicknames to celestial events, others are happy  people are paying attention.

“It’s more exciting for the general public to hear about a super moon,” said Francisco Reyes, a University of Florida associate scientist and director of the school’s teaching observatory. “It’s like a curiosity.”

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A waning crescent moon hangs over Palm Beach as the sun rises Sept. 27, 2016. By Kimberly Miller

A waning crescent moon hangs over Palm Beach as the sun rises Sept. 27, 2016. By Kimberly Miller

 

 

 

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