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The rare black moon on Wednesday offers a great chance to jump



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The periodical full moon or super moon is seen on Sunday, August 10, 2014 in Washington. A super-moon occurs when the orbit of the moon is closest (perigee) to Earth, while being full.


NASA / Bill Ingles

An unusual type of super moon is set to hit the stage this week. It's called the "black supermoon," and what makes it different from other so-called supermonos is that it's basically invisible.

The term "black moon" is an old nickname given to the second moon in a given calendar month. If you remember the phases of your moon, you know that a new moon occurs when sunlight falls on the other side of the moon that we do not see. Basically, it's the opposite of a full moon.

The Western Hemisphere receives its second New Moon on Wednesday, July 31, just before the calendar turns to August.

To make the celestial event even more intriguing is that this black moon comes when the moon is near its closest point to our planet in its orbit on Earth (orbit is not a perfect circle). This is called perigee syzygy, or more commonly, a supermoon.

Usually we talk about the supermoons when they happen together with the full moon, which can make a lunar spectacle that looks a little bigger than normal in the sky. However, to really see this black supermoon, you will need special equipment and a significant experience of observing the sky, but it still offers remarkably dark skies to see other things.


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This is especially convenient as two meteor showers are still near their peaks this week.

So take advantage of those black skies and the black moon to see if you can catch a shooting star or 2 or 10, just watch out for the fireballs raining meteorites .

Originally published on 30 July.


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