What The Black Moon Means For Conspiracy Theorists

Between Halloween's approach and all the astronomical craziness going on this year, even the most level-headed among us has spent at least a little time wondering whether the Black Moon means doomsday is upon us. Let's get this out of the way first: The short answer is, "No." The long answer is, "No, but it's super fun to speculate, isn't it?"

For those whose lives involve more than chilling out on the internet all day, here's a quick rundown of the astronomical event that has everyone in a tizzy this week. On Friday night at 8:11 p.m. EDT, a Black Moon is set to rise in the Western Hemisphere (but not the Eastern, for reasons I'll get to in a second). It's not quite as metal as it sounds; a Black Moon is simply the second new moon in a single month — kind of like the reverse of a Blue Moon, which is the second full moon in a single month. Typically there's only one new moon and one full moon per calendar month, so both events are a little unusual.

New moons are the phase in which the side of the moon illuminated by the sun faces away from Earth, leaving us with a view of the side covered in shadow. Well, it would be a view if you could actually see it. It's hard to see the moon when it's a black patch in the middle of an equally black night sky, so there probably won't be many Black Moon viewing parties. In the Eastern Hemisphere, there won't be any at all; the new moon new moon won't rise until after midnight on that side of the world, so it technically appears on Oct. 1.

But that doesn't mean the Black Moon is totally unremarkable. Although they're not quite as visually exciting as full moons, new moons are at the center of several superstitions. According to some beliefs, new moons are a good opportunity to try new things, and some followers of Wicca and paganism believe that it's a time for personal growth, cleansing, and starting new endeavors. As such, spells along these lines work best when performed during this phase. It's difficult to find any literature about Black Moons in particular online, but it stands to reason that a second new moon, which is relatively unusual, would likely be special in some way.

This month, however, other people have gotten in on the Black Moon fun, as long as your definition of "fun" heavily features doom and gloom. Like every astronomical event vaguely out of the ordinary (remember the Blood Moon last year?), the upcoming Black Moon has been accompanied by predictions of the end of times. According to Inquisitr, some theorists claim the Black Moon is the last in a series of celestial events heralding the apocalypse. Doomsday prediction website Signs of the End of Times points to a quote from the Bible (emphasis theirs):

Matthew 24:29 ...'Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.'

On Sept. 1, an annual solar eclipse, which some called a "ring of fire" eclipse, occurred over Africa; theoretically, this could refer to the bit about the sun being darkened. Although new moons occur every month, it's easy to see where the Black Moon fits into the part about the moon going dark as well.

Various tabloids have also reported on the proliferation of Black Moon doomsday prophecies. According to UK paper Express, one Facebook user wrote, "The Lord will make the moon turn red as blood … and turn black. Sounds familiar?" (It's worth noting that the paper didn't provide a link to the Facebook post itself — perhaps it was taken down by shady government agents.)

As fun as conspiracy theories may be to bandy around, keep in mind that Earth is still chugging along despite centuries of people predicting the end of the world. If humanity manages to survive Friday night's event, Travel+Leisure reports that next Black Moon in the Western Hemisphere will occur in July of 2019.

Images: Fotolia, Giphy (2)