Tonight’s Skies Will Be Graced With A New Moon, Supermoon, And Black Moon All At Once
A supermoon will be taking center stage in the sky this Wednesday night — or Thursday morning, depending on where you are — and it will be a rare phenomenon, as it’ll also be a new moon.
At this time, the moon is at its closest proximity to the Earth, which makes it appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than all the other full moons.
Scientists classify this phenomenon a perigee moon. During this time, the moon is 12,000 miles closer to Earth — its usual distance is 238,000 miles from our planet — but because of the elliptical shape of the moon’s orbit, the distance varies throughout the year.
The moon’s phase and date of its approach to its perigee is not synced, but it’s still possible for a full moon to occur. This is what’s known as a supermoon.
Unfortunately, sky watchers will not be able to see Wednesday’s unusual supermoon due to the sun’s bright rays concealing it during the daytime.
As Universe Today states, a black moon is the new moon version of a blue moon, and is either —
- A month missing a full or new moon … this can only occur in February, as the lunar synodic period from like phase to phase is 29.5 days long. This last occurred in 2014 and will next occur in 2018.
- The second new moon in a month with two. This can happen in any calendar month except February.
- And now for the most convoluted definition: the third new moon in an astronomical season with four.
In essence, this new moon is ‘black’ in the sense that it meets the requirements expressed in rule three. The fourth new moon of the season falls on March 20, just 13 hours before the northward equinox on the same date.
The black moon gravitational forces could also intensify ocean waters to create surging tides, known as a perigean spring tide. In some countries, like the United States, these powerful tides are a phenomenon known as the King Tide.
The next black super moon will happen on October 30, 2016. However, the next blue moon is expected July 31 of this year.
If you wish to catch tonight’s supermoon, here’s a tip.
Find a spot with a good view of the western horizon, take out your binoculars, and look for the black supermoon as the sun sets. Stay until the sky completely darkens, and look for a thin silver crescent shape, which can appear on the outer edges of a black moon. And while you’re gazing at the sky, try to look for Mars and Venus and other celestial objects because they’ll be more visible without the moon’s glow washing them out.
[Image via CBS]