2014 BEGINS THE BLACK MOON NEW YEAR!
Photo Credit: ME, and heavily modified: CLICK photo for larger size and see below for info.
If you have a lunar cycle poster for your wall, this year’s calendar just might be one to keep as there’s a pretty unusual event taking place to start the year…..Let’s break it down.
We begin this year (January 1st 2014) with a new moon which in and of itself is pretty rare. Although that event is pretty cool, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for great Moon phase/cycle events during the 1st quarter of 2014. If we wait a few weeks we soon realize that on January 30, 2014 there is yet another new moon, which makes 2 in one calendar month! The last time this happened was in 1995 I believe, when the new moon again landed on January 1st and 30th. Want to make it even more interesting yet? Ok, both new moons that occur in the month of January 2014 fall precisely on perigee (Where the Moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit)! By definition that makes 2 supermoons (definition below) in one calendar month, the first month of the year at that.
Even the January full moon is worth mentioning as well. The full moon on January 16th will be a “Mini Moon”. That’s when the moon is full at apogee (furthest point from Earth in its orbit). This is also the furthest and smallest full moon of the year and will actually be the smallest full moon you will ever see because the last full moon smaller than this one was 1000 years ago and we won’t see a smaller one until 2154!
*NOTE: 2014 has 5 supermoons: The 2 supermoons in January and the full moons on July, August & September 2014.
Then comes February…..the shortest month of the year is missing something. There is no new moon at all in the entire month. Only a first quarter, full and last quarter Moon phase occurs during February 2014. Like January, the last time this event happened was 1995.
*NOTE: Just as a note of interest, on February 2018 there will be no full moon. The last time that happened was February 1999 and that January and March had 2 full moons.
Now let’s roll into March when yet again the odd lunar cycle lines up a repeat of 2 new moons in the calendar month; one on the 1st and the other on the 30th. The March new moons don’t fall on perigee though so no supermoon action. As with the previous 2 months, the last time this occurred was in 1995.
Now, there’s one more aspect I want to add into the mix. You’ve heard of the blue moon correct? There are three types of blue moon, seasonal blue moon where 4 full moons occur in one season (The 3rd full moon being the blue moon). A calendar blue moon; where 2 full moons fall in a single calendar month (The 2nd full moon being the blue moon). And an actual blue moon caused by light diffraction through smoke and or pollutants in the atmosphere. Conversely, when you have 2 new moons in a single calendar month the 2nd new moon is called a black moon (definition below). Come to think of it, I’ve never heard the second supermoon in a calendar month called anything……..any ideas for a cool name?
So truth be told, this is just the way the lunar cycle works itself out…..it doesn’t care about where it finds itself in our man made calendars. Except for those of us who get the telescopes out to observe some deep sky objects; the super moons, dark/black moons etc. will have zero impact on your daily life but, it’s fun and if it gets people to look up and admire the cosmos then I’m all for it.
SUPERMOON: Definition: To be honest the term supermoon isn’t an astronomy term at all, but instead it’s a term borrowed from astrology. To be a little more accurate, astrologer Richard Nolle coined the term about 30 years ago to designate when a Full or new moon falls within 90% of perigee and it has just in the last few years caught on in the amateur astronomer/sky watcher ranks.
BLACKMOON: Definition: The term black moon, like supermoon isn’t associated with astronomy at all but instead it comes from witchcraft and again, like the supermoon, can be used on a few different occasions.
1: When there are two new moons in a calendar month, the 2nd new moon is a black moon (January and March of 2014).
2: When there are 4 new moons in a season (Defined by equinoxes & solstices, not calendar quarters) the 3rd new moon is a black moon.
3: When there is no new moon at all in a calendar month (Which takes place this February 2014).
4: When there is no full moon at all in a calendar month (Which will occur on February 2018).
5: During a solar eclipse, where the Moon actually looks black on the sky.