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Rare moon brings Halloween fun to Chemeketa community

A spooky full moon will light the night sky this Halloween. Photo “Full moon” by rkramer62 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Candy won’t be the only treat this Halloween. 

On Oct. 31 a rare astrological phenomenon known as a blue moon will brighten the night sky. It can be observed in the sky above or by checking out NASA’s live stream, and can provide unique entertainment while stuck indoors this Halloween.

Chemeketa’s astronomy instructor and planetarium manager Christopher Claysmith has spent much of his professional career studying events like this. 

“The Blue-moon [by definition] is the second full-moon in a calendar month,” Claysmith said. “The full-moon usually rises at about 6:30 p.m., and it is at its highest point about midnight. For the Blue moon, anytime when it is above the horizon is a great time to observe it.”

According to Claysmith, a Halloween night sky like this one can only happen under specific circumstances. 

”…The only way there could be a full moon on Halloween is when it is also a Blue-moon,” he said. 

Blue moons, while not the rarest of lunar events, are still fairly uncommon. 

“The next one is actually going to be at the end of Aug. 2023,” Claysmith said. “Then May 2026 and then Dec. 2028. So, they only happen every roughly two to three years.” 

That relative rarity is where the old idiom “once in a blue moon” comes from. 

For an optimal viewing experience, Claysmith recommends turning to NASA.

“We [the Chemeketa Salem Campus]  do not have a digital telescope, or any sort of way to lock in on the moon and to be able to broadcast that online,” he said. “…NASA does a lot of live streaming for events like this. Frankly, their cameras are a lot better than ours. NASA almost always has a link on their website, [www.nasa.gov].

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