Rare Halloween Blue Moon Tonight

Halloween Blue Moon Trinidad

The blue moon above Trinidad on October 30th, 2020 taken by Sham Sahadeo.

If you’re trying to wake some spirits or go werewolf hunting, tonight is your night. Not only is tonight’s moon a full moon on Halloween, but it is the second full moon for October, making it a blue moon.

A full moon on Halloween lines up about once every 19 years, so this is a relatively uncommon event but even more rare is a blue moon occurring on October 31st. This is the first time since 1944 that All Hallow’s Eve has lined up with a blue moon, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.

Why is it called a ‘blue moon’?

The full moon on Oct. 31 is the second full moon during October 2020. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
The full moon on Oct. 31 is the second full moon during October 2020. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

It is called a blue moon because it is a second full moon in a single calendar month. The current definition of “blue moon” is actually a misinterpretation of the original one, by the way. The term once referred to the third full moon in a season (winter, spring, summer, or fall) that sported four full moons instead of the usual three, a definition laid out by the Maine Farmers’ Almanac in the 1930s.

Although the name may allude to the moon looking blue, it is just another full moon. Blue-colored moons are rare – aren’t necessarily full – and happen when Earth’s atmosphere contains dust or smoke particles of a certain size, slightly wider than 900 nanometers. Particles of this size are very efficient at scattering red light. When these particles are present in our air, and the moon shines through them, the moon may appear blue in color.

When can we look out for our next ‘blue’ moon? August 2023 according to Sky & Telescope.

(Image credit: Sky & Telescope)
(Image credit: Sky & Telescope)

It’s also a Micro Moon!

Eliot Herman in Tuscon also compared the June full moon with the November 2016 supermoon. He wrote: “A comparison of the closest supermoon since 1948 on November 14, 2016 with farthest mini-moon on June 9, 2017. Both images captured with a Questar telescope and a Nikon D800 camera. The images were combined with Photoshop.”
Eliot Herman in Tuscon also compared the June full moon with the November 2016 supermoon. He wrote: “A comparison of the closest supermoon since 1948 on November 14, 2016 with farthest mini-moon on June 9, 2017. Both images captured with a Questar telescope and a Nikon D800 camera. The images were combined with Photoshop.”

Another interesting tidbit, tonight’s full moon is the smallest full moon for 2020! It’s at the farthest point in its orbit from Earth, about 31,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) more distant than its 239,000 mile (385,000 km) average. Tonight’s moon will be at a distance of 252,380 miles or 406,166 km, making it the most distant full moon for the year or what some call a micro moon. However, you probably won’t notice the difference unless you’re particularly sharp-eyed or obsessive about these sorts of things.

Mars makes an appearance

The very bright red object near the moon on October 30 and 31 is the planet Mars, still at its best for this 2-year period. Earth passed between Mars and the sun on October 13. (EarthSky.org)
The very bright red object near the moon on October 30 and 31 is the planet Mars, still at its best for this 2-year period. Earth passed between Mars and the sun on October 13. (EarthSky.org)

We have a micro, blue moon on Halloween, but another thing to look out for tonight is Mars. The Red Planet is at its distance to Earth right now and will be a bright, reddish looking object close to the moon.

Viewing Conditions

The best time to enjoy a Full Moon, is just after moonrise, when the Moon is close to the horizon. Just before moonset is also a good time.

Moonrise is expected at 5:57 PM. During this time, partly to mostly cloudy conditions are forecast across Trinidad and Tobago, with higher cloud coverage across Eastern and Northern areas of Trinidad as well as Tobago.

Unfortunately, as the night progresses, increasing cloud cover with rain, showers and thunderstorms are forecast to develop and move across both islands and continue into Sunday. Definitely catch this sight early!

If you aren’t able to see it, the Virtual Telescope Project will share a live stream of the Halloween blue moon rising above Rome.

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