“True” Blue Moon Occurs Sunday, August 22nd

Diana Hannikainen, Observing Editor, Sky & Telescope
+1 617-500-6793 x22100, [email protected]

Rick Fienberg, Press Officer, American Astronomical Society
+1 202-328-2010 x116, [email protected]

Note to Editors/Producers: This launch is accompanied by high-quality graphics; see the top of this launch for the pictures and hyperlinks to obtain.

The full Moon of Sunday, August 22nd, will probably be a “Blue Moon” in line with the unique — however not the most well-liked — definition of the phrase.

In trendy utilization, ”Blue Moon” has come to discuss with the second full Moon in a month (the final of those occurred on October 31, 2020) — however that hasn’t at all times been the case. This colourful time period is definitely a calendrical goof that labored its way into the pages of Sky & Telescope in March 1946 and unfold around the globe from there.

Editors and contributors to Sky & Telescope have traced the normal astronomical definition to the Maine Farmers’ Almanac within the late Thirties. The Almanac constantly used the time period to discuss with the third full Moon in a season containing 4 (quite than the standard three). “Introducing the ‘Blue’ Moon meant that the traditional full Moon names, such as the Wolf Moon and Harvest Moon, stayed in synch with their season,” says Diana Hannikainen (pronounced HUHN-ih-KY-nen), Sky & Telescope’s Observing Editor.

But in 1946, novice astronomer and frequent contributor to Sky & Telescope James Hugh Pruett (1886–1955) incorrectly interpreted the Almanac’s description, and the second-full-Moon-in-a-month utilization was born.

Sky & Telescope admitted to its “Blue Moon blooper” within the March 1999 problem (see “What Is a Blue Moon in Astronomy?”). Canadian folklorist Philip Hiscock and Texas astronomer-historian Donald W. Olson labored with the journal’s editors on the time to determine the origin of the error, and the way the two-full-Moons-in-a-month which means unfold into the English language.

By both definition, Blue Moons are nonetheless comparatively uncommon. They occur about as soon as each 2.7 years on common. We get a “true” Blue Moon when the cycle of lunar phases causes the total Moon to happen inside a couple of days after an equinox or solstice. The final such prevalence was in February 2019, and the subsequent after this month’s will probably be in August 2024. We get a “Sky & Telescope” Blue Moon after a full Moon happens on the primary or second night time of a month having 30 or 31 days, respectively; there can by no means be any such Blue Moon in February, as a result of full Moons happen 29.5 days aside. The subsequent second-full-Moon-in-a-month Blue Moon is available in August 2023.

The Moon will probably be precisely full (that’s, straight reverse the Sun) this month at 8:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (12:01 Universal Time), after the Moon has set as seen from the U.S. East Coast. This implies that observers within the Americas will see practically full Moons on two successive nights — August 21–22 and August 22–23 — with the Moon showing closest to full earlier than daybreak and once more after nightfall on the 22nd.

Historically, the time period “Blue Moon” was extra typically not an astronomical time period: In older songs it is used as an emblem of unhappiness or loneliness, whereas “once in a blue Moon” means a uncommon occasion. Only exceedingly hardly ever does the Moon truly flip blue in our sky — when volcanic eruptions or forest fires ship numerous smoke and advantageous mud into the environment.

Popular tradition has additionally enthusiastically adopted the phrase “Blue Moon” and utilized it to many alternative issues. As you anticipate the Blue Moon to rise on August 22nd, you may deal with your self to a Blue Moon cocktail: In a tall glass stuffed with ice, combine 4 components of gin to 1 a part of blue curaçao and add a twist of lemon. Enjoy!

Sky & Telescope is making the illustrations under out there to editors and producers. Permission is granted for nonexclusive use in print and broadcast media, so long as acceptable credit (as famous) are included. Web publication should embody a hyperlink to skyandtelescope.org.

Full Moon
When the Moon is full, it’s reverse the Sun within the sky. Thus it rises at sundown and units at dawn. Its craters, mountains, and different floor options seem muted as a result of the excessive Sun casts no shadows as seen from our earthbound perspective. Click on the picture or here for a bigger model.
Gary Seronik
Table of upcoming Blue Moons
According to the Maine Farmers’ Almanac, a Blue Moon happens when a season has 4 full Moons, quite than the standard three. This kind of Blue Moon happens solely in November, May, February, or August, roughly one month earlier than the Northern Hemisphere’s winter and summer time solstices and spring and autumn equinoxes, respectively. According to trendy folklore, a Blue Moon is the second full Moon in a calendar month. This kind of Blue Moon can happen in any month however February, which is at all times shorter than the time between successive full Moons. Click on the picture or here for a bigger model.
Sky & Telescope

For skywatching info and astronomy information, go to SkyandTelescope.org or choose up Sky & Telescope journal, the important information to astronomy since 1941. Sky & Telescope and SkyandTelescope.org are printed by the American Astronomical Society, together with SkyWatch (an annual newbie’s information to the night time sky) in addition to books, star atlases, posters, prints, globes, apps, and different merchandise for astronomy lovers.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899, is the key group {of professional} astronomers in North America. Its membership (approx. 8,000) additionally contains physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose analysis pursuits lie inside the broad spectrum of topics now comprising the astronomical sciences. The mission of the American Astronomical Society is to reinforce and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves via publishing, assembly group, science advocacy, training and outreach, and coaching {and professional} growth.

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