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blue moon

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  • flidias_rain2000
    Thursday, May 31 brings us the second of two full Moons for North Americans this month. Some almanacs and calendars assert that when two full Moons occur
    Message 1 of 1 , May 28, 2007
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      Thursday, May 31 brings us the second of two full Moons for North
      Americans this month. Some almanacs and calendars assert that when
      two full Moons occur within a calendar month, that the second full
      Moon is called the "Blue Moon."

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      The full Moon that night will likely look no different than any
      other full Moon. But the Moon can change color in certain
      conditions.


      After forest fires or volcanic eruptions, the Moon can appear to
      take on a bluish or even lavender hue. Soot and ash particles,
      deposited high in the Earth's atmosphere can sometimes make the Moon
      appear bluish. Smoke from widespread forest fire activity in western
      Canada created a blue Moon across eastern North America in late
      September 1950. In the aftermath of the massive eruption of Mount
      Pinatubo in the Philippines in June 1991 there were reports of blue
      moons (and even blue Suns) worldwide.


      Origin of the term


      The phrase "Once in a blue Moon" was first noted in 1824 and refers
      to occurrences that are uncommon, though not truly rare. Yet, to
      have two full Moons in the same month is not as uncommon as one
      might think. In fact, it occurs, on average, about every 32 months.
      And in the year 1999, it occurred twice in a span of just three
      months!


      For the longest time no one seemed to have a clue as to where
      the "Blue Moon Rule" originated. Many years ago in the pages of
      Natural History magazine, I speculated that the rule might have
      evolved out of the fact that the word "belewe" came from the Old
      English, meaning, "to betray." "Perhaps," I suggested, "the second
      full Moon is 'belewe' because it betrays the usual perception of one
      full moon per month."


      But as innovative as my explanation was, it turned out to be
      completely wrong.


      More mistakes


      It was not until the year 1999 that the origin of the calendrical
      term "Blue Moon" was at long last discovered. It was during the time
      frame from 1932 through 1957 that the Maine Farmers' Almanac
      suggested that if one of the four seasons (winter, spring, summer or
      fall) contained four full Moons instead of the usual three, that the
      third full Moon should be called a "Blue Moon."


      But thanks to a couple of misinterpretations of this arcane rule,
      first by a writer in a 1946 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine, and
      much later, in 1980 in a syndicated radio program, it now appears
      that the second full Moon in a month is the one that's now popularly
      accepted as the definition of a "Blue Moon."


      This time around, the Moon will turn full on May 31 at 9:04 p.m.
      Eastern Daylight Time (6:04 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time).


      But for those living in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, that
      same full Moon occurs after midnight, on the calendar date of June
      1. So in these regions of world, this will not be second of two full
      Moons in May, but the first of two full Moons in June. So, if (for
      example) you live London, you'll have to wait until June 30 to
      declare that the Moon is "officially" blue.

      Top 10 Cool Moon Facts
      Sky Calendar & Moon Phases
      Astrophotography 101

      Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's
      Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for The New York Times
      and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist
      for News 12 Westchester, New York.

      Original Story: The Truth Behind This Month's Blue Moon

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