Ben HaywardSeptember 17th
2020

It looks like the whole world could be in for a super spooky treat this Halloween as we’re treated to an unusual cosmic occurrence… 

Yep, this October 31st, us Earthlings will be presented with the sight of a rare blue moon across all of our earthling time zones, for the first time in 30 years.

There are actually two different types of Blue Moons. The first type - the one we’ll be getting this Halloween - refers to the second of two full moons within a calendar month - which is a pretty rare occurrence. The   last time it happened was on March 31st, 2018.

The second type of Blue Moon refers to the third of four full moons within the space of a single season (if that makes sense) with the next one of these due to grace our skies on August 22nd next year.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac: “For more than half a century, whenever two full Moons appear in a single month (which happens on average every 21/2 to 3 years), the second full Moon is christened a Blue Moon.”

Sadly, though the name is slightly misleading - as the moon we’ll be treated to this Halloween won’t actually look blue in colour, which I’ll admit is a bit disappointing. 

Blue Moon

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However, that’s not to say that when you cast your eyes to the sky, you won’t be looking at something unusual, as a full moon on Halloween only occurs roughly once every 19 years in a pattern known as the Metonic Cycle.  

Although the moon can sometimes appear to be blue in colour, this is more down to unusual atmospheric conditions such as ‘certain-sized particles of dust or smoke’ causing discolouration, rather than any supernatural goings on. 

Although it’s a shame about the lack of an actual blue moon, it will still be a spectacular site, with stargazers across North and South America, India, Europe and Asia all expected to be treated to some spectacular views and as well as photo opportunities. 

Just in case you’re thinking of giving it a miss, remember that the next time we’re due to experience one on Halloween that’s visible worldwide isn’t until 2039, any which time I’ll be, actually that doesn’t bear thinking about!

If you find space as fascinating as I do, don’t forget that TOTUM members can access NASA At Home’s on line portal for FREE. 

From podcasts and e-books to virtual tours of the International Space Station! Perfect for the whole family, NASA at Home provides access to everything from formal lesson plans to amazing imagery and stories about how science and exploration help the world.

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