Once in a blue moon


My friend, Dr. Rus D. Jeffrey, took this photo of a full moon in June 2009 shortly after his purchase of a new 1000mm lens. He has graciously allowed me to use it here! You can visit his website at http://www.DrRus.com

I hadn’t planned on writing another blog post before the beginning of the new year, but then I read that we are having a blue moon on New Year’s Eve (unless you are from Asia, Australia or one of those other South Pacific islands, then you will get your next blue moon in January)! 

Thinking this was pretty cool, I looked it up. In a nutshell, a blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month, unless you are using the Farmer’s Almanac (which defines a blue moon as the fourth full moon in a quarter year). Who knew?

Now, back in our agrarian days, we lived and died by the moon phases. We knew when to plant and harvest crops and perform other rituals by the moon. There are normally 12 moons in a solar year and we gave folksy names for each of them, such as growing moon, harvest moon, snow moon. The 12 moons coincided with our 12 monthly “seasons” and all was right with the world. Well, except when we had 13 moons. That extra moon wreaked havoc, confused us and generally screwed everything up. So, some brilliant soul gave this extra moon its own name, “blue moon,” thus keeping the rest of the moons occurring in their normal order and at their normal times.

Cool, huh? Here’s more about blue moons:

Blue moons occur about once every two and a half years. Or put another way, about 41 times a century.

The last blue moon happened in 2007, when the first full moon of June occurred on the 1st and the second one occurred on the 30th.

This year, our first full moon this month occurred on December 2 and the second one occurs on December 31. This makes this New Year’s Eve extra special because a full moon on New Year’s Eve happens once every 20 years! (If you happen to believe that the crazies come out every full moon, we are going to have a double whammy this year!)

Our next blue moon – August 31, 2012!

If you are using the Farmer’s Almanac’s definition, next one is November 21, 2010 followed by one on August 21, 2013.

Of course, blue moons aren’t really blue. Unless, it is a blue (the color blue) moon. This is apparently a really rare event. According to Wikipedia, a blue colored moon can be caused by dust particles in the atmosphere, like in 1883 after the eruption of Krakatoa. The moon appeared blue for two years. Who knew?

Oh, there’s lots more about blue moons on the internet. Google “blue moon” if you want to know more.

So, there you have it! On this New Year’s Eve, make a toast to the blue moon.

Oh, and Happy New Year!