Turning Blue: Friday’s Full Moon a ‘Blue Moon’

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

Full blue moon

This Friday, Aug. 31, might not be all that much fun for you, especially if you’re someone who vows to only do obligatory tasks once in a blue moon. Then again, if you’re a believer that good luck comes your way only once in a blue moon, Friday might be just the day you’ve been waiting for.

The fact is, for the first time since March 2010, we’ll gaze upon a blue moon this Friday, illustrating just how long that fabled stretch of time really is: almost 30 months. After Friday, you’ll have to wait another 36 months — until July 2015 — for the next one. So, it’s time to loosen up Friday and do all those things you say you do “once in a blue moon.”

(MORE: Kickstart This: A Space Elevator on the Moon?)

It’s a rare cosmic rising that will be unveiled, coincidentally, on the same day as astronaut Neil Armstrong’s funeral service. Armstrong, who died last Saturday at the age of 82, brought the fabled moon into mankind’s domain when he became the first man to walk on its surface in 1969.

Despite the colorful turn of phrase, you might be disappointed if you look into the sky. There will be no magical chameleon act performed by the moon on Friday. That’s because the phrase blue moon — dating back centuries with no pinpointed origin — is nothing to do with hue, but instead signifies a full moon happening for a second time in the same month. Full moons occur every 29 days. With a full moon having already appeared this month on Aug. 2, Friday’s full moon will turn blue, well, in name only.

(MORE: Explore NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with Google Street View)

At times moons have actually appeared blue, but that phenomenon has nothing to do with full moons and everything to do with ash particles floating in the atmosphere. Varying volcanic eruptions over the last few centuries have sent up ash clouds. When the ash particles reach a certain width, they can block reds and yellow from getting to our eyes, giving us tints of blue — and sometimes green — moons.

Of course, we can’t rule out a volcano erupting between now and Friday evening, giving us an actual blue moon. But, then again, that only happens once in a blue moon.

PHOTOS: Earth From Above: The Blue Marble

PHOTOS: ‘Ring of Fire’ Solar Eclipse Dazzles

27 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Bradley Keller
Bradley Keller

Astrology is not folklore. It is our geometry as it relates to our solar system. These blue moons have no baring on the mathematics. They do not exist in astrology.

NavyMom21
NavyMom21

Maybe its a good omen that those toss-up states will go blue

Paul Cox
Paul Cox

The Slooh Space Camera have live coverage of the Blue Moon from their Canary Islands Observatory tonight. They're running simultaneous solar images from Arizona.  They say their coverage is a tribute to Neil Armstrong with TV producer Duncan Copp on the show (he's made a number of space documentaries).  The event is free on their homepage (www.slooh.com) at 15:00PDT.

rdl114
rdl114

If TIME is hiring editors, I am applying:

"That’s because the phrase blue moon — dating back centuries

with no pinpointed origin — is nothing to do with hue, but instead

signifies a full moon happening for a second time in the same month."

...HAS nothing to do with hue...  not IS.

The number of typos, tortured syntax, failure of logic and mistakes of fact in today's publications, particularly on line, is dumbfounding.

adamrussell
adamrussell

"The world will end when there is a blue moon on a friday the 13th".

Nostradumbass

John Giroux
John Giroux

It's hardly "rare".  The Transit of Venus was "rare"... two full Moons in one month is NOT. 

Vice-President Dink Cheney
Vice-President Dink Cheney

Every time there's a blue moon, one of my friends dies. I'm not looking forward to this event. 

Francesco Ferrante
Francesco Ferrante

Blue moon, you saw me standin' alone

Without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own

Blue moon, you knew just what I was there for

You heard me sayin' a prayer for

Someone I really could care for

And then there suddenly appeared before me

The only one my arms will hold

I heard somebody whisper "please adore me"

And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold

Blue moon, now I'm no longer alone

Without a dream in my heart

Without a love of my own

And then there suddenly appeared before me

The only one my arms will ever hold

I heard somebody whisper "please adore me"

And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold

Blue moon, now I'm no longer alone

Without a dream in my heart

Without a love of my own

Blue moon, now I'm no longer alone

Without a dream in my heart

Without a love of my own

Vice-President Dink Cheney
Vice-President Dink Cheney

Bom-ma-bom, a-bom-bom-a-bom, ba-ba-bom-bom-a-bomp, b-dang-a-dang-dang, b-ding-a-dong-ding, Bloooooooooooooooo Mooooooooooon.

Dillon Hinson
Dillon Hinson

This is such a dumb, pointless article. Don't lead people on with an image of a real blue moon and wait four paragraphs to tell us it's just a normal full moon. Who cares about full moons?

Vice-President Dink Cheney
Vice-President Dink Cheney

 You should be saying "Gee, thanks for telling me what a blue moon is, because I obviously didn't know." The rest of us already knew that.

KewlDawg
KewlDawg

You should be worried because it could also mean that your girlfriend/wife will have a second "time of the month", this month.

Kori Evans
Kori Evans

@KewlDawg do you even know what a female is? Have you even seen one? Because your idea of her "time of the month" is, pardon my language, retarded.

Brandon Phyle
Brandon Phyle

I'd wager it is your "time of the month" right NOW.

Brett Young
Brett Young

There is a difference between a Visibly blue moon and "A blue moon can refer to the third full moon in a season with four full moons.[1] Most years have twelve full moons that occur approximately monthly."

Bard_Bowman
Bard_Bowman

I thought a "blue moon" is the fourth full moon occurring in one season (summer, autumn, winter, or spring), since a season usually has only three full moons. By that definition the August 31 full moon is not a "blue moon", as summer 2012 (from the summer solstice to the vernal equinox) will have the normal three full moons.

damniel81
damniel81

One definition of a blue moon is the 3rd (not 4th)  full moon in a 4 moon season which will actually occur next summer.  However, the more common definition is the second full moon in the a single Gregorian calendar month.

Rinith
Rinith

lambda of colors and the aerosol scattering affect makes the natural formation of scenery..! its all about, 'once in a Blue Moon' twin sister of 'Harvest Moon' or the 'Wine Moon' AND cousins of 'Wolf Moon, 'Snow Moon', 'Worm Moon', 'Pink Moon', 'Flower Moon',  'Strawberry Moon', 'Buck Moon', 'Sturgeon Moon', 'Hunters Moon', 'Beaver Moon' and 'Cold Moon' read more at http://ventej.blogspot.com/201...