Thursday, 31 December 2009

Once In A Blue Moon

If you have heard the expression ‘It happens only once in a blue moon’, get ready to witness just that in the skies this New Year's Eve. Now it does not mean that one should expect a bluish glow over planet Earth. The term ‘blue moon’ simply refers to the second full moon in a calendar month. The last time that happened on a New Year's Eve was in December 1990.

Most months have just one full moon, because the 29.5-day cycle of the moon matches up nicely with the length of calendar months. Only about every 2½ years, there will be two full moons in a month. A blue moon on December 31 is rare.

Some songs associated with the blue moon are Elvis Presley’s ‘Blue Moon’, ‘When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again’, and ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky.’

A blue moon has not always had the same meaning that it has today, centuries ago, it simply meant ‘never’ or ‘absurd’. One could say that Chowk’s editors only listen once in a blue moon. The phrase 'blue moon' has been around for over four hundred years, but it has at least six different meanings, with at least four of them still in use today.

In 1883, the Indonesian volcano, Krakatoa (recall the 1969 movie: Krakatoa, east of Java), erupted and released so much dust in the atmosphere that the moon actually appeared blue—an event so unusual that the term ‘once in a blue moon’ was coined; the bluish effect lasted nearly for almost two years.

Full moons originally had twelve names, one for each month, while ‘blue moon’ referred to the 13th full moon:

January: Wolf Moon
February: Snow Moon
March: Worm Moon
April: Pink Moon
May: Flower Moon
June: Strawberry Moon
July: Buck Moon
August: Sturgeon Moon
September: Corn Moon
October: Harvest Moon
November: Beaver Moon
December: Cold Moon

The term ‘blue moon’ acquired its current meaning in the 1940s, when the Farmer's Almanac of Maine offered an astronomical definition of a blue moon.

Tonight (yes, Josephine, tonight), the full moon’s age will be about 14 ½ days, and it will appear bigger by about 12% because it will be near its perigee (nearest distance to the Earth).

Moonrise: 1654 Pak time
Moonset at 0304 Pak time

So, enjoy the view tonight but do not howl at the full moon too much.

Postscript:

As if THIS was not enough! I remembered tonight is also a PARTIAL lunar eclipse that will start at 18:51 UTC (23:51 Pak time).

One ticket, two shows!

No comments:

Post a Comment