Tonight into tomorrow August 1/2) marks the first of two Full Moons to appear in August this year. The actual moment of Full Moon is in the wee hours of August 2nd, but for viewers in North and South America and the eastern Pacific, it’s on August 1st. No matter when you go out the next two nights, check it out — preferably with binoculars or a small telescope. You’ll be amazed at what you can see!
The second Full Moon occurs on the night of August 31st, a phenomenon commonly called a “Blue Moon”. Media folk love to make a big deal of Blue Moons. I’ve seen stories where writers imply that the Moon will actually BE blue, but that’s not necessarily true. The second Full Moon will look like… a Full Moon!
So, go out tonight (August 1st), early tomorrow (if you’re in Europe and farther east), and see the first one. Then, on the 31st, you get to do it all over again! Enjoy your moongazing!
OK, so what is a blue Moon? Actually, there are a number of meanings of blue Moon. No surprise there. Human communication is often not very precise. The most common meaning for the term “blue Moon” is the second occurence of a full Moon in a single month. That’s the way I use it in the December vodcast of Astrocast.TV. After all, most of the time you will have 12 full Moons in a year, or once a month. As it turns out, once every 2.7 (approximately) years, you end up with 13 full Moons in a year. Of course if you say “once in a blue Moon” it just means that the event or circumstance you refer to, only occurs very rarely. I guess that’s even more rarely than once every 2.7 years. Go figure. If you wish to learn more about blue Moons, check out the Wikipedia entry here.