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The Buzz

Trick or Treat? Halloween 2020 Treats Us with a Rare Blue Moon




(Photo via Shutterstock)

Once in a blue moon, creepy coincidences and tricks of the calendar combine to give us a Halloween to remember. It's just our luck that October 2020 is the time for it, because October will bring us the first blue moon in more than two years, and it will happen on — get ready for it — Halloween.

Yep, 2020, the year that keeps on giving, will give us two full moons in October, with the second of them — the blue moon — occurring on Halloween night. Talk about tricks and treats! 

The last time all time zones in the United States experienced a full moon visible on Halloween was in 1944, USA Today reports. The next time Halloween night will be a blue moon is in 2039.

The blue moon won't actually look blue in the night sky. Instead, the blue moon is the term reserved for the second full moon in a given month. The last time we experienced a blue moon was in March 2018, according to EarthSky. They typically occur every two to three years, and the next blue moon will be in August 2023.

This year, October both starts and ends with a full moon. On October 1, the moon will reach its fullest point at 4:05 p.m., Farmers' Almanac reports. Then, on Halloween, it will become full at precisely 9:49 a.m. Even though the Halloween full moon will occur hours before the sun sets for the day, the moon will appear full in the night sky, creating an extra-spooky atmosphere for the holiday.

The full moon on October 1 is known as the harvest moon because it is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, according to Farmers' Almanac. The harvest moon can occur in September or October, depending on which month's full moon is closest to the date of the equinox. When October's full moon is not the harvest moon, it is called the hunter's moon. 

(RELATED) MYTHBUSTER: A FULL MOON DOESN'T CHANGE HUMAN BEHAVIOR

In between the month's two full moons, Mars will be at opposition on October 13. When the red planet is at opposition, it means Mars and the sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth, according to NASA. This phenomenon occurs once every 26 months. 

As Mars approaches opposition, the planet begins to appear more bright in the night sky, and it will remain bright into the night sky into November, Sky at Night magazine reports. During its time at opposition, you can see Mars without the aid of binoculars. It will appear as a pale reddish-pink color, the second brightest planet in the night sky behind Venus. 

October is also a busy time for meteor showers, with four annual showers active during the month. One of these showers, the Draconid meteor shower, is unusual in that the best time to view the shooting stars is at nightfall or in early evening, EarthSky reports. Peak activity for the Draconids is from October 6 to 10, with October 7 being the best evening to catch a glimpse of a shooting star.

The southern Taurids meteor shower is a long-lasting event that began in September and will continue until November 20. Peak activity for the southern Taurids is in October, the night of October 29 to 30, according to the American Meteor Society. Unfortunately, because the moon will be nearly full and bright, viewing conditions will not be ideal during the peak.

The Orionids meteor shower will begin October 2 and last until November 7, with peak activity the night of October 20 to 21. The moon will be only about a quarter full during the peak, so conditions will be better for seeing shooting stars at this time, the meteor society reports. On average, the Orionids produce 10 to 20 meteors per hour. 

One more meteor shower will be active during October, with the northern Taurids beginning October 20 and lasting until December 10. Peak activity for the northern Taurids will be in November, but you may still see shooting stars from this meteor shower at the end of October, the American Meteor Society reports.

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