South Florida

Stargazers to get rare glimpse of Blue Moon, bright Mars this weekend

Blue Moon over Miami.
Blue Moon over Miami. Miami Herald File

There is an astronomical phenomenon known as a Blue Moon which happens, you guessed it, only occasionally. And it’s happening this weekend.

In fact, Saturday and Sunday will offer a dual opportunity for stargazers to get excited because aside from the infrequent Blue Moon Saturday evening there will also be some high-jinks from Mars on Sunday evening.

Mars will be in opposition, meaning the Earth will be passing directly between Mars and the sun. That could make Mars brighter than any star or planet in the night sky.

So get your telescopes out.

If you watch the southeastern part of the sky Saturday night you might be able to see the shining Blue Moon while the Red Planet also beams a bright rusty-orange glow at the same time. Mars will be bright for the next couple of months.

By the time Mars reaches opposition, it will have quadrupled in brightness since the beginning of April, according to EarthSky.org.

The last Blue Moon happened in July of 2015. The next one won’t happen until January of 2018. Traditionally, a Blue Moon is what people called an extra moon in a season.

Seasons typically only see three full moons, making 12 full moons in a calendar year. The fourth full moon in a season and 13ths for a year is rare.

A warning: A Blue Moon is not actually blue. It is mostly bright white but can take on a bluish hue depending on the season and conditions.

South Florida residents are expected to get a fair but not great opportunity to see what’s happening with the moon and Mars this weekend because of cloud cover.

The forecast from AccuWeather.com predicts fair conditions for Blue Moon visibility on Saturday, but poor conditions for Mars visibility on Sunday.

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