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Encyclopedia > Blue Moon

The term blue moon has at least four related meanings. One is a common metaphorical phrase for a rare event. Full moons are given names in folklore, and two definitions of blue moon are a name for a rare full moon that does not have a folk name. One modern blue moon definition is a result of a misinterpretation of the Maine Farmer's Almanac, where a second full moon occurs in a calendar month. The older definition of blue moon is for an extra full moon that occurs in a quarter of the year, which would normally have three full moons, but sometimes has four. Oddly, it is the third full moon in a season that has four which is counted as the "extra" full moon and named blue moon. According to certain folklore, it is said that when there is a blue moon, the moon has a face and talks to the items in its moonlight. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Composite image of the Moon as taken by the Galileo spacecraft on 7 December 1992. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Composite image of the Moon as taken by the Galileo spacecraft on 7 December 1992. ...

Contents

Earliest use in English

The origin of the term blue moon is steeped in folklore, and its meaning has changed and acquired new and interesting meanings and nuances over time. The earliest known recorded usage was in 1528, in a pamphlet entitled Rede Me and Be Not Wrothe: "Yf they say the mone is belewe / We must beleve that it is true" [If they say the moon is blue, we must believe that it is true]. This implies the expression had a meaning of something that was absurd, and bears close resemblance to another moon-related adage first recorded in the following year: "They would make men beleue ... that þe Moone is made of grene chese". "They would make men believe ... that the moon is made of green cheese".


Visibly blue moon

The most obvious meaning of blue moon is when the moon (not necessarily a full moon) appears to a casual observer to be unusually bluish, which is a rare event. The effect can be caused by smoke or dust particles in the atmosphere, as has happened after forest fires in Sweden in 1950 and Canada in 1951 and, notably, after the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, which caused the moon to appear blue for nearly two years. Krakatoa or Krakatau or Krakatao is a volcanic island in the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. ...


Farmer's Almanac blue moons

The older meaning of blue moon to name an extra full moon, as was used in the Maine Farmer's Almanac, was the third full moon in a quarter of the year when there were four full moons – normally a quarter year has three full moons. The division of the year into quarters for this purpose has the dividing line set between March 21 and March 22. This has to do with the rule for setting the date for the Christian Holy Day of Easter, which depends on the last full moon - as calculated by the computus, a somewhat inaccurate formula - on or before the Equinox on March 21, which is also somewhat inaccurate. Farmers Almanac is a reference book used by farmers to determine astronomical positions. ... Easter, the Sunday of the Resurrection, Pascha, or Resurrection Day, is the most important religious feast of the Christian liturgical year, observed at some point between late March and late April each year (early April to early May in Eastern Christianity), following the cycle of the moon. ... Computus (Latin for computation) is the calculation of the date of Easter in the Christian calendar. ...


This meaning of blue moon was lost when the editors of the original Farmer's Almanac died. It was recovered only when researchers for Sky & Telescope magazine noticed that the Maine Farmer's Almanac from 1829 to 1937 reported blue moons that did not fit the meaning of the term calendar blue moon.[1] Farmers Almanac is a reference book used by farmers to determine astronomical positions. ... Sky & Telescope is a monthly magazine providing articles and information on all aspects of astronomy, space exploration, telescope equipment, and amateur telescope making and use. ... Farmers Almanac is a reference book used by farmers to determine astronomical positions. ... Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1829 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... 1937 (MCMXXXVII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ...


Calendar blue moons

In recent times, people have taken to calling a full moon a blue moon based on the Gregorian calendar. By this use of the term, a blue moon is the second of two full moons to occur in the same calendar month. This definition of blue moon originated from a mistake in an article in the March 1946 Sky & Telescope magazine, which failed in an attempt to infer the earlier definition used in the original Farmer's Almanac (see above). It was helped to popularity when Deborah Byrd of Earth & Sky walked into the Peridier astronomy library at the University of Texas at Austin one day, leafed through some old magazines, and found the 1948 blue moon article in Sky & Telescope. She used the definition – the second full moon in a single month – in the radio series Star Date for some years. As a result, the game Trivial Pursuit used a question and answer about blue moon. Sky & Telescope discovered the error nearly sixty years later and the magazine printed a retraction and correction.[2] By the time the correction came the calendar definition had already come into common use. As it is easier to understand, the mistaken calendar-based meaning has stuck. The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world. ... Sky & Telescope is a monthly magazine providing articles and information on all aspects of astronomy, space exploration, telescope equipment, and amateur telescope making and use. ... Farmers Almanac is a reference book used by farmers to determine astronomical positions. ... Deborah Byrd (born March 1, 1951 in San Antonio, Texas) is executive producer and cohost of the internationally syndicated Earth & Sky radio series. ... This article is in need of attention. ... Trivial Pursuit is a board game where progress is determined by a players ability to answer general knowledge or popular culture questions. ... Sky & Telescope is a monthly magazine providing articles and information on all aspects of astronomy, space exploration, telescope equipment, and amateur telescope making and use. ...


Calendar blue moons occur infrequently, and the saying once in a blue moon is used to describe a rare event. However, they are inevitable because of the mis-match between the solar and lunar cycles. Each calendar year contains twelve full lunar cycles, plus about eleven days to spare. The extra days accumulate, so that while most years contain twelve full moons to match the twelve months, every two or three years there is a year with thirteen full moons. On average, this happens once every 2.72 years. Additionally, in some years there is no full moon in February at all, since February is slightly shorter than the time from one full moon to the next. This condition, known as black moon, gives additional 'blue' moons in the preceding and following months. This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... In astronomy, the term black moon is neither well known nor frequently used. ...


When there are thirteen moons in a year, twelve of them are given the twelve traditional names associated with that time of year (the names vary from culture to culture), and the extra one is termed a blue moon. Which of the thirteen moons is termed 'blue' depends on whether it is calculated by the old or the new method.


The months of the Gregorian calendar are all very close to the 29.5306-day period of the moon's phases: the synodic month, or lunation. Most of the months are longer than this by one or two days, except February, which is the only month which cannot contain a calendar blue moon. Since February is one or two days shorter than the moon's cycle, very occasionally it has no full moon – there is a full moon at the end of January, and the next one is at the beginning of March. What this means is that both January and March will have blue moons. This happens, on average, once every thirty-five years. The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world. ... The orbital period is the time it takes a planet (or another object) to make one full orbit. ...


The next two calendar blue moons (based on UTC) will be on June 30, 2007 (but May 31, 2007 in the Western Hemisphere; see below); and December 31, 2009. Because February, according to UTC, will have no full moon in 2018, January and March will each have a calendar blue moon that year. Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is a high-precision atomic time standard. ... June 30 is the 181st day of the year (182nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... May 31 is the 151st day of the year (152nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ... December 31 is the 365th day of the year (366th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2009 (MMIX) will be a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 2018 (MMXVIII) will be a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Time zone problems

Occasionally whether a moon is called blue depends on the time zone. Any full moon occurs simultaneously everywhere, but at that moment clocks and calendars are not the same. Composite image of the Moon as taken by the Galileo spacecraft on 7 December 1992. ...


Example, when it is early evening on August 31 in Europe, it is already early morning September 1 in New Zealand. Hence, residents of London seeing a full moon when their clocks and calendar say it is August 31 would call what they see a calendar blue moon. People seeing the same full moon from Auckland would note by their clocks and calendar that it is the early morning of September 1, and they would not term it a blue moon. But they would probably have a calendar blue moon at the end of September, or perhaps October.[3] World map showing the location of Europe. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... Schematic map of Auckland. ...


Because this is confusing, astronomers worldwide and the calendar makers who rely on them typically choose the time zone of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in the United Kingdom, known as Greenwich Mean Time, or the nearly identical UTC time zone. As a practical matter, because the moon seems to the casual viewer to be full for almost three days, the use of a foreign time zone for calendar markings for full moons makes little difference. Royal Observatory, Greenwich The original site of the Royal Greenwich Observatory (RGO), which was built as a workplace for the Astronomer Royal, was on a hill in Greenwich Park in Greenwich, London, overlooking the River Thames. ... Time zones of Europe: Light colours indicate countries not observing summer time Greenwich Mean Time (Media:Example. ... Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is a high-precision atomic time standard. ...


Blue Moons between 2004 and 2010

The following data is based on the Calendar and Farmers' Almanac definitions.

  • August 2005 — Third full moon in a season of four full moons
  • June 2007 — has a second full moon falling on the 30th
  • May 2008 — Third full moon in a season of four full moons
  • November 2010 — Third full moon in a season of four full moons

See also

In astronomy, the term black moon is neither well known nor frequently used. ... The path of a Wet moon (left) and a Dry moon (right). ... Composite image of the Moon as taken by the Galileo spacecraft on 7 December 1992. ... The lunar phase depends on the Moons position in orbit around Earth. ... see the Half Moon disambiguation page for other meanings A half moon is the phase of the moon midway between a full moon and a new moon. ... Lunar phase refers to the appearance of the illuminated portion of the Moon as seen by an observer, usually on Earth. ... Lunar phase refers to the appearance of the illuminated portion of the Moon as seen by an observer, usually on Earth. ... Lunar phase refers to the appearance of the illuminated portion of the Moon as seen by an observer, usually on Earth. ... The Harvest Moon is the full moon nearest to the autumnal equinox, which occurs (in the northern hemisphere) on or about 23 September, and in the southern hemisphere on or about 21 March. ... Lunar phase refers to the appearance of the illuminated portion of the Moon as seen by an observer, usually on Earth. ... The Hunters Moon (also known as Blood Moon or Sanquine Moon) is the last full moon after the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon nearest the September equinox. ...

References

  1. ^ What's a Blue Moon? Sky and Telescope website.
  2. ^ ibid
  3. ^ www.obliquity.com

The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is generally regarded as the most comprehensive and scholarly dictionary of the English language. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Blue Moons (856 words)
For a blue moon to occur, the first of the full moons must appear at or near the beginning of the month so that the second will fall within the same month (the average span between two moons is 29.5 days).
Since the identity of the moons was important in the ecclesiastical calendar (the Paschal Moon, for example, used to be crucial for determining the date of Easter), a year with a thirteenth moon skewed the calendar, since there were names for only twelve moons.
Saying the moon was blue was equivalent to saying the moon was made of green (or cream) cheese; it indicated an obvious absurdity.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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