The Black Moon is a rare type of New Moon that only appears once every 32 months. And although Black Moon is not a scientific term, it is commonly described as the third of four New Moons in a single season. Here in the UK, the Moon rose at 5.49am BST and will set at 8.56pm BST. But will you be able to see it?
What is a Black Moon?
As the Earth’s lunar companion races around the planet, it goes through eight phases every 29.5 days.
This lunar cycle starts and ends on a New Moon when the Moon is between us and the Sun.
There are typically 12 New Moons each year, with three for each of the four seasons.
Sometimes a fourth one will squeeze in, like this year, and astronomers will call the third one in that set of four a Black Moon.
The term is also sometimes used to describe the second of two New Moons in the same calendar month.
Can you see the New Moon tonight?
Unfortunately, the New Moon cannot be seen without specialist equipment.
Because the Moon’s far side is now facing the Sun directly, there is no sunlight to be reflected back at us at night.
Astronomer Deborah Byrd of EarthSky.org said: “Typically, you won’t see a Moon less than 24 hours on either of the New Moon.”
On the upside, with no moonlight to get in the way, amateur astronomers can look forward to darker skies tonight.
You won’t see a Moon less than 24 hours on either of the New Moon
Deborah Byrd, EarthSky.org
But there is a chance you might see a thin sliver of the Moon’s highlighted edge before it sets.
This phase of the lunar cycle is known as the Waxing Crescent.
In many cultures, the Waxing Crescent marks the start of a new lunar calendar month.
In the Islamic calendar, for instance, a new month only begins when a Waxing Crescent is observed right after sunset.
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After the Waning Crescent, the Moon will grow in brightness until exactly half of its Earth-facing side is illuminated – the First Quarter Moon.
The next stage is the Waxing Gibbous and it precedes the Full Moon.
During a Full Moon, the Earth is positioned between the Moon and the Sun, which allows for full illumination.
After the Full Moon, the orb will start to lose brightness and enter the Waning Gibbous Stage.
After the Waning Gibbous is the Last Quarter Moon, followed by the Waning Crescent.
The New Moon afterwards marks the end of that cycle and the start of the next one.
The Moon takes about 27 days to complete a lap around Earth and the lunar cycle lasts 29.5 days.
Ms Byrd said: “No matter what phase of the Moon you see in your sky, think about where the Sun is.
“It’ll help you begin to understand why the Moon you see is in that particular phase.”
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