Look up: A rare “Black Moon” will appear in the sky Friday night.
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.
John Rao, a columnist for Space.com, said the black moon gets short shrift when it comes to moon hype.
“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 the Black Moon is going to have a tough time in becoming a popular media brand.“
The more well known blue moon has a few definitions, including when a second full moon occurs in a single month.
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 supermoon,” said Francisco Reyes, a University of Florida associate scientist and director of the school’s teaching observatory. “It’s like a curiosity.”
Earlier this month, a full harvest moon rose, marking the transition toward fall. Names were given to moons by Native Americans, who tied the lunar cycles to nature and the seasons.
While the moon will be dark Friday night, it won’t hide for long. By Sunday, a sliver of a waxing crescent moon should become visible.
Maxine J. Martin