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Hoax Alert

Fake News: The Moon Won't Actually Be Blue On Saturday March 31, 2018

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Tue, 27 Mar 2018 08:26:40 Z)

Will the moon really have a blue color next Saturday on March 31, 2018? A viral Facebook video would seem to suggest that is what will happen but this is not really true. We've embedded the Facebook post below:

It was published on March 27, 2018 (archived here) with following caption:

Spread this so everyone can enjoy

Screenshot of https://www.facebook.com/sungazing1/videos/1439575002863991/

While it is true that there will be an astronomical phenomenon going on this Saturday called a "Blue Moon" this has nothing to do with the color. The Moon continually goes through several phases in a 28-day cycle, meaning that more or less of the Moon is visible at any given time during the 28-day period:

moonphases.png

Roughly speaking each month has one Full Moon, when it is completely visible and there are about three appearances of a Full Moon to a season since seasons last for three months.

But since most months have more than 28 days sometimes a month will have a Full Moon twice, or a season might have four of them. The second Full Moon in a month or the third Full Moon in a season that has four of them is also called a "Blue Moon". (source: timeanddate.com)

A Blue Moon is not that incredibly rare, it generally happens every two years or so. The Moon actually appearing blue is much rarer and only happens if there is a lot of atmospheric dust present, for example after a big volcanic eruption. But none of these have been reported recently so if you tell your friends to "look up at the sky this weekend because the Moon will be blue" you will end up looking like a lunatic to them when all they see will be a regular boring Full Moon.

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk
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