What is a Black Moon?

There are several definitions of Black Moon. It can be the third New Moon in an astronomical season with four New Moons or the second New Moon in the same calendar month.

Illustration image
A Black Moon can be a New Moon.
©bigstockphoto.com/mr. Smith

Black Moon is not a well known term in the astronomy world. In recent years, the term has been made popular by astrologers and followers of the Wiccan religion.

No Single Definition

There is no single accepted definition of a Black Moon. The term has been commonly used to refer to any of the following phenomena associated with the New Moon:

  • Second New Moon in a calendar month: These Black Moons occur relatively often – once every 2.5 years.
  • Third new moon in a season of four New Moons: Astronomers divide a year into fourseasons – spring, summer, fall (autumn), and winter. Usually, each season has 3 months and 3 New Moons. When a season has 4 New Moons, the 3rd New Moon is called a Black Moon.
  • A calendar month without a New Moon: This can only happen in the month of February. When this occurs, January and March will have two New Moons, instead of the usual one New Moon.
  • A calendar month without a Full Moon: About once every 19 years, the month of February does not have a Full Moon. Instead, January and March have two Full Moons each. The next Black Moon by this definition will occur in February 2018.

Upcoming Black Moon

October 2016 will have two New Moons – on October 1, 2016 and on October 30, 2016. The second New Moon on October 30, 2016 will be a Black Moon.

Year Date/Month Type
2016 Sep 30 Second New Moon in a single calendar month
2017 Aug 21 Third New Moon in a season with four New Moons
2018 Feb Calendar month without a Full Moon

Ritual Significance

Black Moons hold special significance to people who practise certain forms of Pagan religions and who believe certain actions become more potent when performed on the night of a Black Moon.

Blue Moon

Blue Moon is a term used to descibe various combinations of Full Moons. It can either be the second Full Moon in the same calendar month or the third Full Moon in an astronomical season of four Full Moons.

From: http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/black-moon.html

What & When is a Blue Moon?

There are two astronomical definitions of a Blue Moon; both are a type of Full Moon. When the Moon very rarely actually looks blue, it’s because of a certain size dust particles in the atmosphere.

Illustration image
Blue moons are rarely blue
©bigstockphoto.com/Kamira

The next Blue Moons

Year Date
2015 Friday, July 31
2016 Saturday, May 21

Once in a blue moon means very rarely. But just how rare depends on your definition.

In astronomy, Blue Moon is defined as either the third full moon of an astronomical season with four full moons or the second full moon in a calendar month.

Such a blue Moon (second full Moon in single calendar month) will next occur on Friday, July 31, 2015 at 10:43 am UTC.

Contrary to popular belief, a blue moon is not actually blue in color. Blue moon is a term that is used to describe the third full moon of a season that has four full moons.

A year has four seasons – Spring, Summer, Fall (Autumn), and Winter – with three months and three full moons each. When one of the seasons in a year has four full moons, instead of the usual three, the third full moon is called a blue moon.

These days, the second full moon in a calendar month is also often referred to as a blue moon. This particular use was popularized due to a misinterpretation in a 1946 article in Sky and Telescope magazine. Such blue moons occur rather frequently – at least once every two or three years. The next such blue moon will occur on July 31, 2015.

Are blue Moons rare?

Blue colored moons do rarely occur when dust or smoke particles in the air are of a specific size. Such particles help create a blue colored moon by scattering blue light.

Red moons, which can be caused by other sizes of dust particles or lunar eclipses, are much more common than blue moons.

The phrase, once in a blue moon, is colloquially used to suggest that something is very rare.

Why the third Moon?

There are different accounts of why the third full moon of a season of four full moons is called a blue moon.

For instance, the Ecclestical calendar, which indicates the dates of the Christian fasts and festivals, uses the phases of the moon to determine the exact dates for holidays like Lent and Easter. The month of Lent contains the Lenten Moon. The first full moon of Spring – also known as Easter Moon or Paschal Moon – falls a week before Easter. In order to ensure that Lent and Easter coincides with the phases of the moon, the calendar has termed the third moon of the season as the blue moon.

Another version of this is that since each full moon of a normal year already has a given name, for instance Harvest Moon, the 13th nameless full moon in a year was named a blue moon. This way the lunations and calendars werw aligned to make sure celebrations and customs would still fall during their “proper” times.

Did you know?

About once every 19 years, the month of February does not have a full moon. The years when this happens, also have two full moons in two different months. This phenomenon will occur next in 2018.

From: http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/blue-moon.html

Moon Names

The Moon has long been as important in deity worship as the Sun has. For many ancient people believed that without the Moon to allow the Sun to sleep the Sun would not return the next day. For many the month or a period of time passing was from one full Moon to the next. Many tribes had a calendar year of thirteen months to coincide with the number of full Moons. The Celtic/Lunar calendar, still in use today, has thirteen months or Moon cycles to it. The lunar calendar is based on a month that has approximately 29.5 days. This is the reason the full Moon dates change from year to year.

Why does each full Moon have many different names? For that we have to consider that the names come from many different parts of the world. When the old ones naming them were alive they did not have the communication access to other people around the globe as we do now. They were isolated in their own portion of the world and only knew things there. Remember it is only been a few hundred years that the Earth was not thought of having an end you could fall off of in to an abyss.

I am sure I have missed a few of the names the Moon is or has been called by so I do not claim this is a complete list. If you know of other names I have not listed please email the name and month it belongs to, to me at ladybeltane@aol.com, so I can put them on. Thanks!

What and when is a Blue Moon?

Most seasons have only three full moons in them, but because of the variation due to the Moons 29.5 day cycle some seasons have four full moons. The term “blue moon” is used to identify these extra full moons.

All Moon Names are listed in order by regular calendar month names

Some of the Native American names for the Northern and Eastern Tribes/Nations

Wolf

Snow

Worm

Pink

Flower

Strawberry

Buck

Sturgeon

Harvest or Corn

Hunter or Harvest

Beaver

Cold or Long Nights

COLONIAL AMERICA

Winter

Trapper’s

Fish

Planter’s

Milk

Rose

Summer

Dog Day’s

Harvest

Beaver

Christmas

CHINESE

Holiday

Budding

Sleepy

Peony

Dragon

Lotus

Hungry Ghost

Harvest

Chrysanthemum

Kindly

White

Bitter

NATIVE AMERICAN- CHEROKEE

Cold

Bony

Windy

Flower

Planting

Green Corn

Ripe Corn

Fruit

Nut

Harvest

Trading

Snow

NATIVE AMERICAN-CHOCTAW

Cooking

Little Famine

Big Famine

Wild Cat

Panther

Windy

Crane

Women’s

Mulberry

Blackberry

Sassafras

Peach

NATIVE AMERICAN-DAKOTAH SIOUX

Moon of the Terrible

Moon of the Raccoon, Moon when trees pop

Moon when eyes are sore from bright snow

Moon when Geese return in scattered formation

Moon when leaves are green, Moon to plant

Moon when June berries are ripe

Moon of the middle Summer

Moon when all things ripen

Moon when calves grow hair

Moon when quilling sand beading is done

Moon when horns are broken off

Twelfth Moon

NATIVE AMMERICAN-ALGONQUIN

Wolf

Snow

Sap

Seed

Flower

Strawberry

Buck

Sturgeon

Corn

Raven

Hunter’s

Cold

CELTIC-TWO VERSION

(The Celts also you a 13 month lunar calender of Trees. This does not fit into months we are use to.)

Quite or Storm

Moon of Ice or Chaste

Moon of Winds or Seed

Growing or Hare

Bright or Dyan

Moon of Horses or Mead

Moon of Claiming or Corn

Dispute or Barely

Singing or Blood

Harvest or Snow

Dark or Oak

Cold or Wolf

ENGLISH MEDIEVAL

Wolf

Storm

Chaste

Seed

Hare

Dyan

Mead

Corn

Barley

Blood

Snow

Oak

NEO PAGAN

Ice

Snow

Death

Awakening

Grass

Planting

Rose

Lightening

Harvest

Blood

Tree

Long Night

New Guinea

(These do not go by our calender months)

Rainbow Fish Moon

Parriotfish Moon

Palolo Worm Moon

Flying Fish Moon

Black Trevally Moon

Open Sea Moon

Tiger Sharl Moon

Rain & Wind Moon

CELTIC-LUNAR

(This calendar does not have months like we are use to. It has thirteen months based on 29.5 days or from one Full Moon to the next. I have included the dates the coincide with our regular calendar)

Birch (December 24 – January 20)

Elder (November 25 – December 23)

Birch (December 24 – January 20)

Rowan (January 21 – February 17)

Ash (February 18 _ March 17)

Alder (March 18 – April 14)

Willow (April 15 – May 12)

Hawthorn (May 13 – June9)

Oak (June 19 – July 7)

Holly (July 8 – August 4)

Hazel (August 5 – September 1)

Vine (September 2 – September 29)

Ivy (September 30 – October 27)

Reed (October 28 – November 23)

Elder (November 24 – December 23)