The new moon will rise in Denver tonight, April 22, the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day, at 8:25 p.m.
That's close enough to 8 p.m. for Shelsea Ochoa and Brice Maiurro, the Denver residents who launched the Facebook group Go Outside and Howl at 8pm on March 27. Since then, it's grown to over 550,000 members around the globe, and both Governor Jared Polis and Mayor Michael Hancock have encouraged people to go outside and howl at 8 p.m.
Howl for first providers, howl for those who've been lost, howl just to...howl.
Ochoa and Maiurro haven't missed a night of howling, and tonight they have something special planned for the new moon: Howloween, a howl where they encourage everyone to come out in costumes.
"I'm excited to go on a social-distance walk in my red tutu," says Ochoa.
The celebration actually got its start early this morning, with the Lyrid meteor shower arriving just in time for Earth Day. "The New Moon will also lend itself to dark skies to make the beautiful shooting stars all the more visible. Consider turning off any lights you can to reduce light pollution in your area and make the sky all the brighter. Maybe best-of-all, viewing this beautiful night sky phenomenon is something you can do while still social distancing from others!" Mauirro notes on Facebook.
On this day, and this day only, that Facebook page will be open for comments through the day. Because of both the volume of comments and the problematic nature of some, Mauirro and Ochoa had been limiting comments to five hours, starting at 5:45 p.m. each night and moderated by 25 volunteers. Turns out, people have a lot to say. And to howl about.
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"For a lot of people, it's become an important ritual at a time in their lives when they have no control," Ochoa says. "I'm happy to know that it's bigger than us. It belongs to everyone."
But do note: It is not big enough for fireworks. When they created the communal howl, they chose 8 p.m. as a time when it would be dark, Mauirro explains, but not so late that it might disturb people who were ready for bed.
"We do not support fireworks. We have made multiple posts about this," Ochoa notes. "Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to help."
In fact, it makes you want to howl. Which you can do at 8 p.m. tonight.