A Blue moon and red Mars set to light up the sky.
With Mars coming into opposition, Mercury already in retrograde and the Moon set to turn blue, there are plenty of celestial events to keep star-gazers occupied over the next few days.
On May 22, the Earth will be directly between the Sun and Mars, causing the red planet to appear brighter than any other planet or star in the night sky, and it will stay bright for the upcoming few weeks. The alignment between orbits of Mars and Earth occurs every 26 months, but this particular opposition will be extra bright as it will take place when Mars is also at its closest orbital point to Earth.
Next, the planet Mercury is currently in retrograde, meaning that from our vantage point here on Earth, while other objects in the night sky are traveling west-to-east, Mercury will appear to be going in the opposite direction, due to the fact that it completes its orbit around the Sun much faster than we do and thus “overtakes” us a few times every year. Astrologists like to take this as a ominous sign that all is not right in the heavens, and since Mercury is the god of communication and travel, any number of mix-ups and miscommunications (bad hair days, etc.) are blamed on Mercury’s being in retrograde. Fear not, however, as this retrograde ends on May 22, only to occur again starting August 30.
Lastly, the moon will be blue on Saturday, May 21 – not actually blue, nor even appearing blue, but only called such because it will be the third full moon out of four within the same season.
The phrase is also applied to the second moon occurring within the same calendar month and in either case it implies an “extra” moon.
Will the full moon have an effect on you this Saturday? No, says Jean-Luc Margot, UCLA professor of astronomy. Although urban myths have it that the full moon causes emergency rooms and birth wards to fill up and city streets to be filled with rowdies, there is no evidence to support the theory.
“The moon is innocent,” says Margot. “Some nurses ascribe the apparent chaos to the moon, but dozens of studies show that the belief is unfounded.”
Margot chalks it up to confirmation bias: people tend to seek out phenomena to support their own beliefs while disregarding contradictory evidence. So, while busy nights at hospitals do occur during full moons, they also happen during the rest of the month with just as much regularity.
Yet, not so fast. Isn’t it true that sleep patterns are disrupted by the full moon, or is this another part of moon mythology?
Surprisingly, there does seem to be a (minor) effect -at least on children, that is. According to a recent study led by researchers at the Eastern Ontario Research Institute, while no significant change was recorded in adult sleeping patterns, the sleep duration of children was found to decrease by an average of five minutes during a full moon.