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Rare ‘blue moon’ to enchant Halloween stargazers

By Barra Best

BBC News NI Weather Presenter


image copyrightJohn Mackle

image captionA bewitching sight awaits stargazers on Halloween night

Halloween fans are in for an extra spooky treat as a full moon is set to light up the night sky on Saturday.

Traditional festivities will look very different this year because of coronavirus.

However, on the plus side aspiring werewolves will be able to practise their howling.

This will be the first time since 1974 that there has been a Halloween full moon across Ireland and the UK, according to Astronomy Ireland.

And, as it is the second full moon of October, this is also known as a ‘blue moon’, although it will not appear as blue in the night sky.

“The perfect full moon occurs at 14: 49 on Halloween and as the sun sets, the moon will be rising at the same time” said David Moore from Astronomy Ireland.

“The Halloween full moon probably only happens a few times every century and it won’t happen again in Ireland and the UK until 2039.”

image copyrightBarrie Buckley

image captionA full moon at Halloween is a once in a generation event

The organisation is expecting a lot of excitement around the celestial event.

“You associate Halloween with ghosts and ghouls, but this year it’ll also be werewolves because of the full moon” added David.

“So, it’s good fun for the general public and hopefully it’ll get everyone excited.”

It will also be the first time a Halloween full moon will be visible across the whole world since 1944.

“Anything that makes people aware of what’s happening in the sky is very useful,” said Terry Moseley from the Irish Astronomical Association.

“I suppose there’s a certain connection between the full moon and witches and spirits moving around on Halloween night that gets people interested.

“It’s just one of those things that comes around every so often.”

Storm Aiden

The question is – with Storm Aiden set to move in on Saturday, will we be able to see the moon at all?

The good news is that, although the storm will bring strong winds, rain, and cloud at times, some clear spells are expected through the evening and night.

image copyrightDavid Costello

image captionThe full moon should be visible during clear spells between the clouds

So, if you can, why not take a break from the sweets, toffee apples and scary movies to catch a glimpse of the Halloween full moon?

It’ll be the last one for 19 years.

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