October Full Moon: Why Halloween’s Blue Moon is so rare

Halloween 2020 will be all-the-more special because the evening involves a Hunter’s Blue Moon arriving over the horizon. As the day of October 31 draws to an end, Earth’s natural satellite will appear as this month’s second Full Moon.

But to temper any unrealistic exceptions, this Blue Moon is totally unrelated to the colour ultramarine.

The unusual nomenclature instead refers to the appearance of a second Full Moon arriving in either a month or a season.

So, it is this that makes the lunar orb on the scariest night of the year ‘blue’.

This follows on from October’s first Full Moon, which showed-up bang on schedule on October 1.

Although Blue Moons have historically been used to denote rarity, they are in reality not really that unusual.

However, it is all-the-more rare for a Blue Moon to coincide with Halloween.

The last time this occurred was in 2001 – and before then it was way back in 1955.

And you cannot expect another such cosmic occurrence to coincide with October 31 until 2039.

Why is this Saturday’s event called a Hunter’s Moon?

The first Full Moon to arrive in October 2020 is commonly known as the Harvest Moon.

This pastoral name is the one given to the Full Moon arriving closest to the September equinox.

Such a phenomenon takes place when our lunar orb is located on the opposite side of our world from the Sun, fully illuminating the Moon.

The origins of the Hunter’s Moon are mired in ongoing academic debate.

The overwhelming majority lunar names actually relate to farming, such as the well-known Harvest Moon.

The name relates to the time when farmers’ crops were ready to be reaped from the light of the Full Moon.

And in the same way, a Hunter’s Moon is through to originate when farmers planned for the breezy months ahead, in addition to the ideal opportunity for hunting game, perfectly plump for the pot.

Other references to the Hunter’s Moon’ originate from Native American tribes, who used it to refer to the time when deers were tracked in the autumn moonlight by hunters preparing for the encroaching winter months.

Other names for this imminent Full Moon include the Travel Moon and the Dying Grass Moon.

How to see the October Full Hunter’s Moon in the UK:

The 2020 Hunter’s Moon this year will rise at exactly 4.53pm on Saturday, October 31.

However, those who are too busy to look to the heavens at this time need not worry, as the Moon will continue to look iridescent on nights bookmarking both sides of Halloween.

Amateur astronomers and photographers alike will be able to see the Moon in all of its glory from anywhere on Earth on October 31 – weather permitting.

As with all Full Moons, Saturday’s Hunter’s Blue Moon will rise in the east at around sunset (4.35pm GMT on Saturday).

The Full Moon will then proceed to set in the west at sunrise (confirmed to take place at 6.54am GMT on Sunday).

The Full Moon is expected to reach its highest point – known as the zenith – in the late night and very early morning hours.

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