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Halloween Full Moon is an Astronomical Event: Above Oregon, Washington Coast

Published 10/31/20 at 5:44 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Halloween Full Moon is an Astronomical Event: Above Oregon, Washington Coast

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(Portland, Oregon) – Clear, chilly nights have led to bright stars and a glaring moon in recent days, and above the Oregon coast and Washington coast this Halloween brings more than a simple full moon. It’s not only a Blue Moon (the second full moon of a month) but it’s the Hunter’s Moon and the first full moon on a Halloween in 19 years. (Above: a full moon at Neahkahnie Mountain, Manzanita)

There’s nothing spooky about this one, unless you’re walking in a creepy beachside forest under this moonlight. This full moon is a scientific delight. Then later in November, the skies hold more out-there fun.

According to OMSI astronomy expert Jim Todd, the full moon actually occurred at 7:49 a.m. this morning (Saturday).

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He added that Halloween itself is a special day in astronomy.

“Halloween is a “cross-quarter” day, a way marker for halfway between the equinox and solstice,” he said. “Traditionally, Halloween occurs on October 31 which is approximately midway point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. The October 31 date for Halloween has been fixed by tradition. The true cross-quarter day falls on November 7, representing a discrepancy of about one week. According to the ancient Celts, a cross-quarter day marks the beginning , not the middle, of a season.” (Moon photo courtesy Seaside Aquarium)

Todd said there are eight major seasonal subdivisions of every year. They include the March and September equinoxes, the June and December solstices, and the intervening four cross-quarter days. The four cross-quarter days are often called Groundhog Day (February 2), May Day (May 1), Lammas (August 1) and Halloween (October 31).

Also still on the galactic menu for those on the Oregon / Washington coastlines – or anywhere that’s clear in the Pacific Northwest – these cold, clear nights are leading to fun-to-watch star twinkling as well as lots of Mars. Look for the bright red star high in the sky and you’re looking at our red neighbor.

Check out the brighter stars close to the horizon and you may see them do some unusually intense “flashing” or twinkling, sometimes with reds and blues. See the full story and video.

Of course, there’s nothing really blue about this moon. Todd said there are several different meanings for the term ‘Blue Moon' which has been in use for nearly 400 years, but during that time its meaning has shifted around a lot.

“More recently, the term was cited in The Maine Farmers' Almanac, 1937,” Todd told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “The almanac states that when there were two full moons in a calendar month, calendars would put the first in red, the second in blue.”

Luckily for those along the Oregon and Washington coasts, the skies are largely clear for the next couple of days, along with most areas inland around Seattle, Portland or Eugene.

Even more spaced out fun is coming in November, with a penumbral eclipse on November 30 and the Leonid meteor showers peaking around November 17. More Oregon / Washington moon photos below

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