Hey, D.C area. Did you know that Halloween is an astronomical holiday?
There is a lot of special sky stuff associated with this “boo of a Moon” on Saturday.
At sunset the second Full Moon for October will rise in the East bright and beautiful at 6:28 p.m. and just a little after 6:34 p.m. in Central Virginia. Oct. 1 was the first full moon of the month, which was also a full harvest moon.
On Halloween night, the full hunter’s blue moon will greet sky-gazers. It is the full hunter’s moon because it traditionally follows the full harvest moon when in days of old, the fallow fields helped hunters. It is a full blue moon due to being the second full moon in the month.
The last time a full moon happened on Halloween was 2001, and the next occurrence will be in 2039 — an average once every 19 years. But an extra special occurrence this year, according to the Farmers’ Almanac, is that for the first time since 1944, the full moon on Halloween night will be visible in all U.S. time zones.
Last but certainly not least in a lunar sense, this full moon will occur at its farthest distance from Earth for the month, known as apogee.
This will be the opposite of a super moon – a micro moon!
The moon will appear a little smaller and dimmer to experienced full-moon watchers but it will still have plenty of moonlight to add some spookiness to Halloween night.
So here it is, my full description of this very special moonrise: Halloween Night Full Hunter’s Blue Micro Moon.
Wow. I must confess I tried to find out when this very unique combination happened last but could not easily do so. I’ll have to do a bit of research to see if I can find this out and if so will share on Twitter.
We also turn our clocks back an hour at 2 a.m. on Nov. 1, ending daylight saving time. The longer nights allow us to better enjoy the night sky.
Plus, there is much to see as we head into November.
After sunset, beautiful and bright Jupiter, along with Saturn (to the left of Jupiter), await gaze in the southwestern sky. These two gas giant planets will be moving closer to one another in the sky in the weeks to come and become very visible, so watch out for this.
Mars is still red and bright in the eastern sky after dark and will be prominent at night for a bit longer. So will the Milky Way in the southwest sky.
You will need a dark sky site, such as Shenandoah National Park and the moon out of the sky to see the glorious Milky Way. You can get updates on the park’s status on its website.
For you early risers, brilliant Venus is in the east, and the constellations of winter are visible in the south and overhead.
Please vote, get a flu shot, wear a mask and social distance. Stay safe and healthy as we wind down 2020.