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Business News/ News / Mysterious Black Moon to grace the night sky on May 19: What to Expect

Mysterious Black Moon to grace the night sky on May 19: What to Expect

A Black Moon, which is a rare astronomical occurrence, is set to happen on May 19, 2023.

Mysterious Black Moon to grace the night sky on May 19: What to Expect (AFP)Premium
Mysterious Black Moon to grace the night sky on May 19: What to Expect (AFP)

A Black Moon which is a rare astronomical event is set to occur tonight, May 19, 2023. The term "Black Moon" does not have an official astronomical definition, but it is commonly used to refer to two situations: the second new moon in a calendar month or the third new moon in a season of four new moons.

What is Black Moon?

There is typically one full moon and one new moon each month, because the lunar calendar almost lines up with Earth's calendar year. A second full moon in a single calendar month is sometimes called a "Blue Moon." By this definition, a Black Moon is the flip side of a Blue Moon. A Black Moon is a fairly rare occurrence, we did not experience any Black Moons in 2021.

In contrast to a full moon, which illuminates the moon's Earth-facing side, a new moon signifies the moon's Earth-facing side being fully in shadow, resulting in its invisibility. Black Moons, following the calendar month definition, tend to happen approximately once every 29 months and are the more prevalent type.

A Black Moon refers to an extra full moon in a season. Because Earth's seasons are approximately three months long, they typically have three new moons. When a season has four new moons the third new moon is called a Black Moon. These seasonal Black Moons occur about once every 33 months according to Time and Date.

When to see the next Black Moon?

The upcoming Black Moon of this year, as defined by the seasonal term, is set to occur on 19 May, 2023. The next Black Moon according to the calendar month definition will happen on December 30, 2024.

How to see the Black Moon?

During the phase of the new moon, often referred to as the "black" moon, the moon passes through the same part of the sky as the sun, causing its unilluminated side to face Earth. Consequently, it becomes impossible to observe any visual features. Unlike a supermoon, which captivates people with its slightly larger and brighter appearance, the Black Moon remains unseen. Unfortunately, that means the Black Moon will be more or less invisible. However, a few evenings after the Black Moon, a slender waxing crescent moon might become visible in the western twilight sky, approximately 30 to 40 minutes after local sunset.

It's important to note that some individuals mistakenly label any thin lunar crescent as the "new moon," even though the new moon phase represents a completely darkened moon. This misconception has even permeated popular literature, as evidenced by an anecdote from Walter Lord's renowned work "A Night to Remember," where a fireman in a lifeboat spotting a narrow crescent in the dawn sky exclaimed, "A new moon!"

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Published: 19 May 2023, 12:58 PM IST
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