Black super new moon 2019: What is it and will we be able to see the lunar event in the UK?

Hannah Daly
A plane passes in front of the super full moon, as seen from Buenos Aires on February 19, 2019 - AFP

A black super new moon is the next lunar phenomenon to take place this year, when both a black moon and a super new moon will occur at the same time. 

While North America’s black moon occurred slightly earlier on July 31, it won’t take place in Europe until next week.

But, what exactly is a black moon and a supermoon, and will we be able to see the event? 

Here is everything you need to know about the black super new moon, including definitions and the science behind Earth’s only natural satellite.

What is a black moon?

There is actually no single, accepted definition for black moon, but it is used by stargazers to describe three phenomena.

In most cases, it refers to the second occurrence of a new moon in a single calendar month. This type will next take place in the UK on August 30, 2019. 

Some may use black moon to describe the third new moon in a season of four new moons. Each season usually sees three new moons, but a fourth takes place around every 33 months.

Black moon also refers to a month, which sees no new moons. This tends to take place every 19 years and can only happen in February because it is shorter than a lunation. 

So what exactly is a new moon?

A new moon is the first lunar phase, when the sun and moon are aligned and the sun and earth are on opposite sides of the moon.

This month has already seen one new moon occur on August 1, with another to follow on August 30.  

What about a supermoon?

The name “supermoon” typically describes a moon that appears larger and brighter in the sky

Factually speaking, this occurs when the moon is at its closest point, or perigee, to Earth during its elliptical orbit. 

However, there are actually two types, a super full moon, the name given to a full moon at its nearest point to Earth, and a super new moon, the term used to describe a new moon at its closest approach to Earth. 

A super full moon is the type that usually attracts celestial fanfare. When the sky is clear and visibility is good, the moon can appear up to 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter to the naked eye.  

At the start of 2019, we were treated to three super full moons on January 21, February 19 and March 21.

This year, the UK has also seen a super new moon occur on August 1, with another two set to take place on August 30 and September 28. But, a super new moon is less exciting for space fans because it is invisible from Earth. 

Will we be able to see the black super new moon in the UK?

Unfortunately for us earthlings, new moons are invisible to the naked eye. The alignment of the Sun, the moon and Earth leaves the area of the moon that faces the Earth in darkness, therefore hiding the natural satellite’s bright white hue. 

New moons also rise and set at the same time as the Sun, bringing them too close to the Sun’s glare.

But following the lunar event, the moon becomes visible again the next day, appearing in the sky as a beautiful waxing crescent moon.