Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blue Moon for New Year's

Or is it? I did some poking around and thought I’d share what I found.

There are several vastly different definitions of a blue moon. The current, most common one is that of the second full moon to occur within a month, which is what tomorrow’s is. The last time this happened was in 1990. The next of this type of blue moon is August 31, 2012.

Previously, a blue moon was a seasonal event referring to the third full moon of a season in which four occurred. This happens only once every 2.7 years. Each season usually has an early, mid and late full moon. Calling the “extra” moon something else is an adjustment to keep things on track. What we call blue moon has other names that vary with locale and culture and are often descriptive in nature such as harvest moon, snow moon, egg moon, and growing moon. The next blue moon according to this definition is November 21, 2010.

Another, more literal meaning for blue moon is atmospheric. It doesn’t only apply to full moons but any time the moon actually appears unusually bluish in color. It’s caused when the air contains larger than normal particles. These particles, about a millionth of a meter in size, diffract the light, scattering the red leaving the blue light rays to be the only ones seen. The particles are smoke or dust from things such as volcanic eruptions or major forest fires.

There’s a very lengthy definition for blue moon with a lot of religious explanation about the betrayer moon and calculating Lent and Easter but I don’t think I’ll get into that.

I did find an interesting folklore tidbit that I really like. It’s said that when there is a full blue moon, the seasonal variety, the moon has a face and will talk to those in its light. For some reason that makes me smile.

So there you have it. Perfectly clear. Happy New Year!


Anny Cook said...

I like that last little bit. Thanks for sharing!!!

Regina Carlysle said...

Hmm. Might have to pick up some Blue Moon beer today in honor of this AND the New Year. This has been a helluva year, hasn't it, my friend.