What Is a Black Moon?


And When Is the Next Black Moon?

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It’s a “Black Moon”! This sounds ominous but it’s not. Find out what a Black Moon is, when the next Black Moon occurs, and special symbolism and folklore.

What is a Black Moon?

A Black Moon is a special kind of New Moon, just as a Blue Moon is a special kind of Full Moon. Neither are astronomical terms; both are catch phrases for an unusual lunar calendar occurrence. For this reason, the definition of a Black Moon can vary and may refer to…

  1. …the second new Moon in a month. This is the definition of Black Moon that’s used most often, and it’s the most common (once every 29 months).
  2. …the third new Moon in a season of four New Moons. Every season (spring, summer, fall, winter) has 3 months and 3 new Moons. However, occasionally (every 33 months), there is a season with 4 new Moons. In this case, the third New Moon is called a Black Moon.  
  3. …when there are NO new Moons in a month (February). This can only happen in February since it’s the only calendar month that is shorter (28 days) than the lunar month. When there is not a new Moon in February, there will be two new Moons for both January and March. It’s a rare occurrence (every 19 years or so) and the next one isn’t until 2033.
  4. every new Moon, since we’re then seeing the Moon’s dark or black side.

When is the Next Black Moon?

If we go by the most popular “two new Moons in a single month” definition, Black Moons are slightly rare, occurring once every 29 months (two to three years). The next Black Moons are:

Year    Date         Type
2023    May 19    Third New Moon in a season with four New Moons
2024    Dec 30    Second New Moon in a single calendar month
2025    Aug 23    Third New Moon in a season with four New Moons

Note: Black Moons vary by time zone. See the Moon phases for your location.

What Will You See During a Black Moon?

Black Moons are invisible, like all new Moons, so you won’t see the Moon itself!

Did You Know: The new Moon always rises near sunrise, and crosses the sky with the Sun during the day, so the glare of the Sun is too strong.  See our handy chart on “When Will the Moon Rise Tonight?”

Remember, there are four quarters of the Moon—the Moon phases. There’s usually a new Moon and a full Moon about once a month, because the Moon takes about a month to orbit Earth.

  • With the “full Moon,” the entire disk of the Moon is illuminated by the Sun (because the two celestial objects are on opposite sides of the sky).
  • In contrast, the “new Moon” has its dark side facing us. It’s not reflecting any of the Sun’s light because the Moon is lined up between the Earth and Sun. Only the far side of the Moon is illuminated, and we can’t see this side from Earth.

See the Moon phases for your location here.

Stars Look Brighter

Although you can’t see the Black Moon, the good news is that a moonless sky is excellent for stargazing (since the Moon’s light won’t drown out the stars). 

A day or two after the new Moon, you’ll see the slim crescent Moon in the west after sunset. This is such a magical moment. Often you’ll not only see the crescent but also the darkened area of the Moon’s disk shining dimly. The reflected light is called “Earthshine.” 

Earthshine. Credit: NASA/Zolt Levay

The Tides Are Stronger

The gravitational influence of the Moon creates tides. And when it’s the new Moon or full Moon, there is even more of an effect on tides. 

This happens because the Sun, and Earth are in alignment at the times of the new or full moon. This creates extra-high high tides as well as very low, low tides—both commonly called “spring tides.” 

Black Moon Influence

As the Black Moon is a new Moon, there are some special practices and folklore associated with this time of the lunar cycle.

  • For example, according the age-old practice of Gardening by the Moon, one should plant vegetables that bear crops above ground during the light: from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full.
  • There is also folklore about the new Moon and good luck. Some folks considered this to be a special time when any activities are more powerful and effective, and other believes this is a time when activities should not be conducted!
  • Of course, there are also religions which follow a lunar calendar and pay special attention to the new Moon. After the Moon’s absence for a few days, it’s kind of a lunar rebirth. Thus, some cultures revolved ceremonies around that first appearance of the new Moon. 

Now learn more about the Blue Moon!

About The Author

Bob Berman

Bob Berman, astronomer editor for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, covers everything under the Sun (and Moon)! Bob is the world’s most widely read astronomer and has written ten popular books. Read More from Bob Berman

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