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The Closest New Moon

This month, October 2020, looks pretty exciting. On October 16, we will be able to see the closest and biggest new moon this year. But, that’s not all! The Blue Moon, near red Mars, is this year’s farthest and smallest full moon, coming on Halloween (October 31, 2020).

You don’t want to miss the Halloween Blue Moon (blue in name only) near Mars – it is going to be interesting to see. In the meantime, we won’t be able to see the October 16 new moon, the closest new moon of 2020, and therefore a supermoon. We rarely see a new moon, except when there’s an eclipse). That happens because it’s the moon phase that’s closest to the Earth and the sun for any given month. New moons move across the sky with the sun all day, hidden in the light of the sun.

The number of new moons this year is 12, but the moon this October arrives just about 4 hours before the moon moves to the lunar perigee: the closest point of the moon to Earth in its monthly path.

New moon: October 16 at 19:31 UTC (221,797 miles or 356,948 km)
Lunar perigee: October 16 at 23:46 UTC (221,775 miles or 356,912 km)

You’re not going to see this month’s moon, although it’s pretty close. However, if you live along the coast, you may see its effect along the shores of the ocean in the days after the new moon. Twice a month — at new moon and full moon — the gravitational force of the moon pairs up with that of the sun to bring forth higher-than-normal spring tides. The difference between high and low tide is exceptionally significant around the time of the spring tide. With this month’s closer-than-normal moon, we can assume even higher (and even lower) tides in some areas; weather factors and the form of the shoreline also play a part.

If you are currently located along the coast, look out for the perigean spring tide to bring more loft to the high tide, and more depth to low tide.

2 weeks – one half lunar month – following this perigean moon, on October 31 (Halloween), the most distant and smallest full moon this year will take place. The reason for that is this year’s 13 full moons; the October 31 full moon is nearest to aligning itself with the lunar apogee – the moon’s farthest point in its monthly path around Earth. The distance of this Halloween full moon is 252,380 miles (406,166 km). Therefore, it is more than 30 thousand miles, or 49 thousand km, farther than the moon of October 16.

Oftentimes, the smallest full moon of the year (apogean full moon) is considered a micro-moon. This year, though, this micro-moon will also be named a Blue Moon as it will be the second of two full moons in October 2020.

To sum up: October 16 gives us this year’s closest new moon. It will be called a supermoon by some people. You’re not going to see this very close new moon because it’s going to pass across the daytime sky with the sun. However, in the days after the new moon, you may see its gravitational impact on the tides along the ocean coastlines.

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