This Week’s ‘Black Moon’ Will Help You See Other Planets

This Week’s ‘Black Moon’ Will Help You See Other Planets

This Saturday, May 20, a rare ‘black moon’ will rise in the nighttime sky, signalling the start of a new age when bloodshed and chaos will reign upon the Earth. OK, the part about “bloodshed and chaos” probably isn’t true, but the black moon is still a neat astronomical rarity, and its presence makes this Friday a particularly good evening for both stargazing and spell-casting.

What is a black moon?

‘Black moon’ is a relatively recently coined term. Like ‘blood moon’ or ‘blue moon,’ It doesn’t have a scientific meaning, but ‘black moon’ has a number of popular meanings.

This Friday’s black moon is so-called because it is the third new moon of a season that has four new moons. Most seasons have only three new moons, but every 33 months or so, there’s a fourth. Some refer to this kind of black moon as a seasonal black moon.

‘Black moon’ can also refer to the second new moon in a month (a calendrical black moon). The third kind of ‘black moon’ is when there isn’t a new moon in a month at all.

How to take advantage of the black moon

In a way, all new moons are black moons, because the shadow of Earth prevents you from seeing the moon during this time. You won’t be able to see anything rising in the sky, but this means that the brightest source of light in the nighttime sky will be absent, making it a perfect time to look at other celestial objects, including four planets and (hopefully) some asteroids.

Venus and Mars will be moving eastward after sunset, and if you stay up late, you’ll be able to catch Jupiter and Saturn too, in the eastern part of the sky, right before daybreak.

As for asteroids, there should be some stragglers from the Eta Aquarid meteor shower that peaked earlier this month. While it’s past the high point of the annual show, you should still be able to catch the tail end of it this weekend, and maybe see some long streaks in the sky.

The mystical significance of the black moon

The black moon has special significance among practitioners of modern paganism, particularly the Wiccan community. According to Wiccaliving, many practitioners of the witchy arts refrain from casting spells when the moon is new, but others are drawn to the new moon’s destructive potential for releasing harmful “karmic patterns.” Some see the black moon as a super-powered new moon, and thus a great time for powerful “manifestations.” So get out there and cast some spells, wayward sisters.

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