Tonight holds an exciting astrological event--the "blue moon". No, it really won't be blue (but how cool would that be?). The current definition of "blue moon" refers to a second full moon within the same calendar month. We had a full moon on August 1, and tonight, we have another!
Did you know that this current definition is fairly recent, and attributable to a magazine error? Yep. In March 1946, an amateur astronomer named James Hugh Pruett wrote an article for Sky and Telescope magazine in which he called the second full moon in a month, a "blue moon".
Up until this time, almanacs actually called the fourth moon of a singular season a "blue moon" because all the other full moons had names (like egg moon, before yule moon, lenten moon, harvest moon). For example, if there are four full moons in the fall "season", the fourth would be the blue moon. There are some calendar differences and such, but this definition was the one used until the incorrect information was published in Sky and Telescope.
In 1980, the Sky and Telescope error was solidified by the radio program StarDate. There were lots of blue moons during this time, and lots of people wanted to know all about blue moons! This new (and erroneous) definition stuck, and now we pretty much all call the second full moon in a month a "blue moon".
The next blue moon (by today's definition) won't arrive until July 2015--so tonight, head out and enjoy nature's grandeur.
I saw a really sweet message posted by Neil Armstrong's family (his memorial service is today) and I am going to quote it here:
"For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request... Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."
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