Wednesday, August 21, 2013
The Blue Moon
I was curious, though, as to why this moon, the first full moon in August, was being called a blue moon. Weren't blue moons the second full moon in a month? That's what I had always heard and assumed to be true. So why was this a "blue moon"?
I went looking for the answer to that question. Probably it has been addressed ad nauseum by telvesion weathermen but since I don't have television, I was in the dark (well, it was pretty light, actually because that moon was bright last night).
The conclusion is that yes it is and no it isn't a blue moon. Apparently the early definition (pre-1938) was that a blue moon was the 4th full moon in one season. Since seasons are 3 months, that would be an extra full moon in one of those months. However, the definition was mis-interpreted by a scientist in 1946, who took it to mean two full moons in the same month. His interpretation was later broadcast on NPR and other places and has become the accepted definition of a full moon today. According to the website Space.com, there are 7 blue moons in a 19-year span. So however you define it, a blue moon is still a pretty rare occurrence, and something to take note of as we rush through our daily lives.
Each full moon, as you probably know, has a name--several names in fact. This August moon is known as the Full Sturgeon Moon, Corn Moon, Lightning Moon and Fruit Moon, among others. You can see an intriguing list of moon names here.
The moon will still be pretty full tonight, so why not enjoy it for a little while this evening? It will be a while before there is another; in fact, the next blue moon won't come around until July 31. 2015.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.