Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Why all the fuss about blue moons?

For reasons that escape me, the upcoming blue moon seems to be garnering a lot of media attention. An excessive amount of media attention, I'd say. It's probably part and parcel of the increased attention being inexplicably paid to supermoons in recent years.
A blue moon is simply the second full moon in any one calendar month. This month, we had a full moon on January 2nd, and we are due another one on January 31st (in fact, for what it's worth, that one will be a super blue blood moon!). Given the relatively arbitrary nature of our calendar, with some months having 31 days, some 30 days, and February being a law unto itself, and the fact that a lunar month is actually about 29.5 days, blue moons do not happen that often - hence the phrase "once in a blue moon".
They actually occur every two or three years - the last one was in July 2015 - although, for astronomical reasons, some are only full within certain time zones. So, in the scheme of things, they are not that rare either. Neither are they actually blue, or unusually large, or special in any astronomical sense.
So, why all the fuss?

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