Enjoy November’s Blue Moon
This month’s full moon on the 22nd is a Blue Moon, but don’t expect it to be blue — the term has nothing to do with the color of our closest celestial neighbor.
In the 21st century, the term Blue Moon has two meanings. According to the popular definition*, it is the second Full Moon to occur in a single calendar month. The Old Farmer’s Almanac on the other hand defined a Blue Moon as the third full moon in a season with four full moons. Both definitions are now widely accepted.
The November 22, 2010 Blue Moon is the third of four full moons between the September 2010 equinox and December 2010 solstice.
The relative rarity of this phenomenon is the reason why the idiomatic expression “once in a blue moon” is used to describe the rarity of an event.
Blue moons have no astronomical significance, Greg Laughlin, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz told Inquirer.net. “‘Blue moon’ is just a name in the same sense as a ‘hunter’s moon’ or a ‘harvest moon,’” according to him.
However, this month’s Blue moon will be more notable because the spectacular open star clusters, the Pleiades and their sisters the Hyades would be seen just about 10 degrees away from the Full Moon on that night.
To most meteor shower enthusiasts and lunar photographers, a Full moon is less interesting because it interferes with meteor shower observations due to its brightness. This also makes the moon look flat, making the shadows of the lunar craters and mountains hard to see.
Anyway, here are ways to enjoy a Full Moon’s night from amateur astronomer, AstroBob .
There’s always so much interesting history to learn about the Moon and how we view it from Earth, and learning about it makes me appreciate the Moon just a little bit more each time I look at it.
So relax and enjoy the gorgeous sight of this month’s Blue Moon and try to do something special to mark this event on the night of November 22. 😛
* The idea of a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month stemmed from the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine, which contained an article called “Once in a Blue Moon” by James Hugh Pruett. Pruett was using a 1937 Maine Farmer’s Almanac, but he simplified the definition. He wrote: “Seven times in 19 years there were — and still are — 13 full moons in a year. This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two. This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon.”
Later, this definition of Blue Moon was also popularized by a book for children by Margot McLoon-Basta and Alice Sigel, called “Kids’ World Almanac of Records and Facts,” published in New York by World Almanac Publications, in 1985. The second-full-moon-in-a-month definition was also used in the board game Trivial Pursuit. source: EarthSky.org