Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Blue Moon

My granddaughter Haley Ford captured this picture of the full moon, noting, "This blue moon isn't as big as I thought it would be." I love her humor and her unique perspective.

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, 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.


Lynn said...

great info, this is a fantastic photo, I've tried that shot and failed miserably-and I am totally impressed that you have not a TV...good for you!

Granny Sue said...

I loved this photo too, Lynn. Really nice. Not having television isn't a problem for us--we're too busy to watch it and I dislike all those fake reality shows. We do have a TV and DVD player to watch movies, though--there we can pick and choose what we watch and when. Larry watches more than I do; I'm usually doing my blog or other things in the evenings.

Sue said...

I'm glad to hear those blue moons come around infrequently, else what would happen to that wonderful phrase, "once in a blue moon"?


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