Social media is going wild for the "black moon" coming up on Friday, but it turns out it's not much of a big deal. (Despite some "End of Days" headlines, like so.) First off, you won't be able to see much of anything in the night sky, explains National Geographic. The "black moon" is merely a new moon, the distinction being that it's the second new moon in a single calendar month. That is a somewhat rare event that occurs about once every 32 months, reports Space.com. The problem is that the side of a new moon facing the Earth is in full shadow, meaning it's virtually undetectable at night.
The lunar cycle is 29.5 days, so if a new moon falls on one of the first days of a month, a "black moon" can occur at the end. In a sense, it's the "evil twin" of a blue moon—the phenomenon in which two full moons occur in a single calendar month, notes National Geographic. "Black moon" isn't even a technical term and is unrecognized by NASA, and scientists say hype around the event has been generated mostly by social media. Despite those sensational headlines, the sad truth of a black moon is that it's "a bit boring," astrophysicist Ian O'Neill tells the Los Angeles Times. (The moon once looked different from Earth.)