What is a Blue Moon and why don't they occur very often?

A full moon in Peterborough Credit: Craig Sperring

If you like to indulge in a little folklore then this Halloween may seem extra spooky.

What is a blue moon?

The phrase once in a blue moon is familiar to most of us and we usually think of something that doesn't happen very often.

There are a few definitions of a blue moon but the most popular is a month that has two full moons. What makes this next blue moon a little more interesting is that it coincides with Halloween this year.

Can I see the blue moon on Saturday?

The moon will appear in the sky shortly after sunset on Saturday remaining for most of the night so we should be able to see the moon.

A full moon in Suffolk earlier in the year in April Credit: Lana Walker

However, the weather is looking very changeable over the next few days but there should be an opportunity to see the full moon during the first half of the evening when the skies will be clearest.

Saturday evening is in between two weather systems Credit: ITV Weather graphics

Is it unusual that a blue moon falls at Halloween?

Blue moons are actually not that unusual. The next blue moon will be on the 30th of August 2023 but the next blue moon that falls at Halloween will be in 2039 so it safe to say that is a little unusual.

A pumpkin display in Hertfordshire Credit: Carla Sears

Halloween is a tradition that originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain in Ireland. People would light bonfires and dress up to ward off ghosts.

Large turnips and potato were traditionally carved to ward off evil sprits. In the UK beetroots were often used. As people travelled, they took their traditions with them and the pumpkin was found to make the perfect fruit for carving.

Alyssa collecting pumpkins in Ampthill Credit: Alyssa picking pumpkins. Anna Bunney, Ampthill
Undley Pumpkin Patch Credit: Teresa Footman

And as for werewolves and full moons. Folklore says that humans turn into werewolves during a full moon. It is said that werewolves only howl at a full moon but this is just folklore that dates back to greek mythology.