No Trick. It’s A Real Lunar Treat.
Trick or treat! This October 2020, we will enjoy a Harvest Moon, Hunter’s Moon, Blue Moon, and a Halloween Full Moon. This is a real lunar treat!
The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the fall equinox, or the official first day of fall. This past fall equinox was Tuesday, September 22nd. The Harvest Moon is usually in September and can occur before or after the equinox, but once every three years it is in early October. This year the Harvest Moon will appear on Thursday, October 1st.
The Hunter’s Moon is the first full moon following the Harvest Moon. It is sometimes called the October Moon, but once every four years the Hunter’s Moon occurs in November. Because the Harvest Moon occurs on the first day of October this year, the Hunter’s Moon will be on October 31st, or Halloween.
Since the Hunter’s Moon is the second full moon in October, it will also be a Blue Moon. Traditionally, a Blue Moon was the third of four full moons that occur in one season, a season being the period between equinoxes and solstices, or vice versa. In recent times, we have dumbed down the criteria of a Blue Moon to simply mean the second full moon in a calendar month. A Blue Moon, by its modern definition, appears every two to three years.
Any full moon on Halloween would be Hunter’s Blue Moon, as the moon cycles through its lunar phases every twenty-nine and a half days. For a full moon to be on Halloween, the previous full moon would appear in the first couple of days of October.
As you probably already gathered, a Blue Moon is not blue. This year it will most likely be orange in color because it will be close to the horizon, as is normal for the Hunter’s Moon.
A full moon on Halloween occurs about every nineteen years. The last Halloween full moon was in 2001; however, in the Eastern time zone, the full moon was technically November 1st shortly after midnight according to the Farmer’s Almanac (https://www.almanac.com/astronomy/moon/calendar). The last time we had a Halloween full moon in all U.S. time zones was 1944 (https://www.cbsnews.com/pittsburgh/news/halloween-blue-moon-full-moon/).
There you have it. We have a Harvest Moon on Thursday, October 1st and a Halloween Hunter’s Blue Moon on Saturday, October 31st. Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy it; otherwise, you will have to wait until 2039 to see it again. Truly a rare treat! How cool is that?