Many people are familiar with the phrase, “once in a blue moon”, which has to do with the rarity of two full moons occurring within the same month. But, in some rare cases, there have been blue moons.
As the article states, blue moon is a name for a type of moon, such as the harvest moon, beaver moon, etc. which occur in certain months:
|January:||January – Wolf Moon||July:||July – Hay or Buck Moon|
|February:||February – Ice or Snow Moon||August:||August – Corn or Sturgeon Moon|
|March:||March – Storm or Worm Moon||September:||September – Harvest Moon|
|April:||April – Growing or Pink Moon||October:||October – Blood or Hunter’s Moon|
|May:||May – Hare or Flower Moon||November:||November – Snow or Beaver Moon|
|June:||June – Mead or Strawberry Moon||December:||December – Cold Moon|
Other moon names can be found here.
The definition of a blue moon is described as follows:
blue moonn. 1. a. The third full moon in a three-month calendrical season that has four full moons.
b. The second of two full moons occurring in the same month.2. Informal A relatively long period of time: I haven’t seen you in a blue moon.
[Sense 2, probably from the rare occurrence whereby the moon appears blue from high amounts of dust in the atmosphere, as from a volcanic eruption.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company
The Farmer’s Almanac gives a description of the names of moons:
Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There was some variation in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names. Since the lunar month is only 29 days long on the average, the full Moon dates shift from year to year. Here is the Farmers Almanac’s list of the full Moon names.
• Full Wolf Moon – January Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.
• Full Snow Moon – February Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, native tribes of the north and east most often called February’s full Moon the Full Snow Moon. Some tribes also referred to this Moon as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult.
• Full Worm Moon – March As the temperature begins to warm and the ground begins to thaw, earthworm casts appear, heralding the return of the robins. The more northern tribes knew this Moon as the Full Crow Moon, when the cawing of crows signaled the end of winter; or the Full Crust Moon, because the snow cover becomes crusted from thawing by day and freezing at night. The Full Sap Moon, marking the time of tapping maple trees, is another variation. To the settlers, it was also known as the Lenten Moon, and was considered to be the last full Moon of winter.
• Full Pink Moon – April This name came from the herb moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring. Other names for this month’s celestial body include the Full Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and among coastal tribes the Full Fish Moon, because this was the time that the shad swam upstream to spawn.
• Full Flower Moon – May In most areas, flowers are abundant everywhere during this time. Thus, the name of this Moon. Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon.
• Full Strawberry Moon – June This name was universal to every Algonquin tribe. However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon. Also because the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June . . . so the full Moon that occurs during that month was christened for the strawberry!
• The Full Buck Moon – July July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, for the reason that thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. Another name for this month’s Moon was the Full Hay Moon.
• Full Sturgeon Moon – August The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this Moon, since sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. A few tribes knew it as the Full Red Moon because, as the Moon rises, it appears reddish through any sultry haze. It was also called the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon.
• Full Corn Moon – September This full moon’s name is attributed to Native Americans because it marked when corn was supposed to be harvested. Most often, the September full moon is actually the Harvest Moon.
• Full Harvest Moon – October This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night by the light of this Moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice the chief Indian staples are now ready for gathering.
• Full Beaver Moon – November This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.
• The Full Cold Moon; or the Full Long Nights Moon – December During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time. The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.
Just the same, anytime to look up at the Moon is a great time. So, when you look up at the Moon this Thursday night, realize that you are seeing a moon that truly comes along once in a blue moon. Who knows, that night if the atmospheric conditions are right, it may just actually be a blue moon.
And as Earth’s only satellite, it never ceases to give joy and pleasure to me.
Lunar libation (Author: Tomruen SOURCE)
This Moon illustration was made by Luc Viatour
Luc Viatour in the immediate vicinity of the image. Website http://www.lucnix.be
By ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer Alicia Chang, Ap Science Writer – 14 mins ago
LOS ANGELES – Once in a blue moon there is one on New Year’s Eve. Revelers ringing in 2010 will be treated to a so-called blue moon. According to popular definition, a blue moon is the second full moon in a month. But don’t expect it to be blue — the name has nothing to do with the color of our closest celestial neighbor.
A full moon occurred on Dec. 2. It will appear again on Thursday in time for the New Year’s countdown.
“If you’re in Times Square, you’ll see the full moon right above you. It’s going to be that brilliant,” said Jack Horkheimer, director emeritus of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium and host of a weekly astronomy TV show.
The New Year’s Eve blue moon will be visible in the United States, Canada, Europe, South America and Africa. For partygoers in Australia and Asia, the full moon does not show up until New Year’s Day, making January a blue moon month for them.
However, the Eastern Hemisphere can celebrate with a partial lunar eclipse on New Year’s Eve when part of the moon enters the Earth’s shadow. The eclipse will not be visible in the Americas.
A full moon occurs every 29.5 days, and most years have 12. On average, an extra full moon in a month — a blue moon — occurs every 2.5 years. The last time there was a lunar double take was in May 2007. New Year’s Eve blue moons are rarer, occurring every 19 years. The last time was in 1990; the next one won’t come again until 2028.
Blue moons have no astronomical significance, said Greg Laughlin, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
“`Blue moon’ is just a name in the same sense as a `hunter’s moon’ or a `harvest moon,'” Laughlin said in an e-mail.
The popular definition of blue moon came about after a writer for Sky & Telescope magazine in 1946 misinterpreted the Maine Farmer’s Almanac and labeled a blue moon as the second full moon in a month. In fact, the almanac defined a blue moon as the third full moon in a season with four full moons, not the usual three.
Though Sky & Telescope corrected the error decades later, the definition caught on. For purists, however, this New Year’s Eve full moon doesn’t even qualify as a blue moon. It’s just the first full moon of the winter season.
In a tongue-in-cheek essay posted on the magazine’s Web site this week, senior contributing editor Kelly Beatty wrote: “If skies are clear when I’m out celebrating, I’ll take a peek at that brilliant orb as it rises over the Boston skyline to see if it’s an icy shade of blue. Or maybe I’ll just howl.”