Rare blue moon brings a Halloween 2020 treat to heaven

In 2017, a bright full moon rises at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA / Kim Shiflett

Halloween may look different this year because of COVID-19 but there will be a cool spooky spectacle to round off a month wonderful sky observation: a rare second full moon in the month.

The full moon that will be visible on October 31st is called the blue moon because it is the second full moon of the same month – after the harvest moon from October 1st to October 3rd. And in rare cases the Halloween 2020 full moon will be visible to the whole world, and not just parts of it, for the first time since World War II.

“When I was teaching, my students thought there was a full moon every Halloween,” said Jeffrey Hunt, astronomy educator and former planetarium director. Not quite, though pop culture decorations sure make it seem that way. The last Halloween full moon visible around the globe came in 1944, he said. He wrote about the event on his website When the Curves Line Up. There was a Halloween full moon in some locations in 1955, but it didn’t include western North America and the western Pacific, Hunt says.

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While this year’s Halloween full moon will be visible in all parts of the world, it doesn’t mean that every single citizen has a view. Residents in both North America and South America will see it, as will Africa, all of Europe, and much of Asia. But while Western Australians will see it, those in the central and eastern parts of the country will not.

Know time zones well? “Every time zone has them except those east of (GMT) +8 time zones if they have daylight saving time, or (GMT) +9 with no time of day,” says Hunt.

Would you like to see the Halloween full moon? It’s so bright in its full phase that it doesn’t matter if you’re in a crowded city or on the farm. And you don’t need expensive equipment.

“Go outside and see,” says Hunt.

However, don’t be surprised if you take a Halloween moon shot with your phone and the photo doesn’t match what you saw.

“When the moon is photographed with a smartphone, the results can be disappointing,” admits Hunt. “A telephoto attachment helps to make the moon bigger.”

If you’re too busy watching horror movies (or doing the coronavirus equivalent of trick or treating) then you’ll have to wait until 2039 for another global full moon.

“Of course, full moons occur in October in the intervening years, just not on Halloween,” says Hunt. And until then, a Halloween full moon may appear in your area. It’s just not seen all over the world.

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