Night Sky Gaze

Two New Moons Will Occur in the Month of August

  • The month of August will experience two New Moons due to the lunar-cycle repetitions overlapping.
  • A New Moon is one of eight Moon phases in which the Moon sits in between the Earth and the Sun.
  • Some astronomers refer to the second New Moon of a month as a Black Moon. It occurs approximately every 2 years and 8 months.
  • There isn’t anything super significant about a Black Moon other than giving night sky gazers a clearer view of the stars due to the absence of the Moon.

Moon phases have always been a fascinating thing. Being able to see where the Moon is in relation to the sun as it orbits Earth just shows how well-crafted our galaxy really is. However, there is one Moon phase called the New Moon in which it can’t be seen in the sky. And during the month of August, the New Moon will occur twice.

Phases of the Moon

During the period of 29.5 days—roughly a full month aside from February—the Moon will go throw 8 phases. These phases correlate with the Moon’s position with the Earth and the Sun. A phase indicates the angle of the Moon as it is seen from Earth. As the Moon orbits the Earth this angle changes along with how much of the Sun’s light is hitting the Moon.

Every month there are two moments in which the Moon “looks” completely different. During a Full Moon, the entire Moon can be seen. It sits on the opposite side of the Earth away from the Sun, therefore, making the visibility of the Moon unprohibited.

However, a New Moon is the complete opposite. It cannot be seen at all from Earth due to it’s proximity to the Sun. During a New Moon, we can only see half of the Moon—the half that isn’t lit up by the Sun. In fact, the Moon during this phase isn’t even in the sky at night. It actually rises and sets with the Sun.

Why Two Moons in August

Astronomers use the term month in several different ways. For some of the definitions, a month relates to the time that the Moon orbits the Earth in relation to the stars or other universal phenomena. However, the term lunation (synodic month) is the more familiar term that is used when referencing Moon phases.

Since a lunation is 29.5 days this actually makes each year 365.25 days. This gives us an extra quarter of a day every year, or an “overlap” for lack of a better term. This results in slightly more than 12 full moon-cycles per year.

Eventually, a lunar-cycle will complete and start again within the same calendar month causing two New Moons or two Full Moons. This phenomenon, which occurs approximately every 2 years and 8 months, will happen this August in 2019. The second New Moon of the month is sometimes referred to as the Black Moon which is the complete opposite of the second Full Moon of a month, the Blue Moon.

What is the Significance?

There really isn’t anything significant about a Black Moon. Since it can’t even be seen during the day or night, nothing will seem different. The dogs won’t howl louder, and the creatures of the wild won’t start conspiring against mankind.

If anything, the absence of the Moon will give sky gazers a sharper or clearer view of the stars. That’s certainly something worth getting excited about.

Bryan Brammer