Why Is It Called A Black Moon? No, There Is Nothing Nefarious About This Lunar Occurrence

Photo taken on September 1, 2016, in Saint-Louis, on the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, shows the moon covering the sun, leaving a ring of fire effect around the moon, during an annular solar eclipse. Stargazers in south and central Africa were treated to a spectacular solar eclipse on September 1, 2016 when the Moon wanders into view to make the Sun appear as a 'ring of fire', astronomers say. The phenomenon, known as an annular solar eclipse, happens when there is a near-perfect alignment of the Earth, Moon and Sun. But unlike a total eclipse, when the Sun is blacked out, sometimes the Moon is too far from Earth, and its apparent diameter too small, for complete coverage. / AFP / Richard BOUHET (Photo credit should read RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: RICHARD BOUHET/AFP/Getty Images

If you're a space cadet or fan of sky events, you've probably heard about the Black Moon that we're going to experience this Friday. If you're not in the know, you're probably now wondering what it is and why it's called a Black Moon ... because your first reaction was probably that it sounded like the name of a supernatural young adult thriller or a metal band from the '90s. Alas, the Black Moon is a real astrological thing that exists on the lunar calendar and is happening Friday, September 30th at 8:11 p.m. ET and 5:11 p.m. PT, but will be visible only on the Western Hemisphere. 

Typically, each month we experience one Full Moon, and one New Moon — as the lunar calendar basically syncs up with the Earth calendar. But this month, we're going to experience two New Moons, an event that only happens once every 32 months.  September of 2016 has been a big month for the moon, with the Harvest Moon and the Penumbral Moon and now the Black Moon. And while any sort of special sky forecast is exciting, there won't actually be much to see this Friday.

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The Black Moon got its name from its dark appearance. Just like any New Moon, it's hidden by the shadow of the Earth, and therefore not visible to the naked eye. However, because this particular moon is the second New Moon of the month, there might be moments in the night where it passes directly between the Earth and the Sun, and its silhouette will become illuminated. Though you'll have to keep a close eye out of for this possible ring of fire, it won't last long. 

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In certain forms of the Pagan religion, each New Moon is an opportunity to cleanse and rid one's self of negativity and toxic habits or thoughts. The Black Moon is believed to hold spiritual significance and is said to enhance the power of certain rituals and practices, making it an opportunity to set better and more positive intentions for the upcoming month. Though, you don't have to be Pagan to take an opportunity to let go of negatively and welcome positivity into your life. 

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If you want to increase your chances of catching a sight of the Black Moon, head outside with some binoculars or a zoom camera lens. While you might not find the Black moon or its silhouette, you will probably catch a glimpse of a few more stars than usual. Without the illumination of the moon, the sky will appear darker and thus it will be much easier to stargaze. If you miss this Black Moon, you'll have to wait until July of 2019, that's the next one! 

Images: Giphy

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