A “Blue Moon” Heralds the Harvest


Heralding the change in season, a full Moon will rise in the eastern twilight sky on August 31st for the second time this month (the first time came on August 1st). Many people use the expression “once in a blue Moon” to mean something that occurs rarely, and you might be tempted to call August 31st’s big, bright orb a “Blue Moon” too. While the former meaning can be traced back centuries, the latter definition is much newer — and it’s wrong! At least if you’re a stickler about these things.

“In modern usage, the second full Moon in a month has come to be called a ‘Blue Moon.’ But it’s not!” says Kelly Beatty, Senior Contributing Editor for Sky & Telescope magazine. “This colorful term is actually a calendrical goof that worked its way into the pages of Sky & Telescope back in March 1946, and it spread to the world from there.”

Sky & Telescope admitted to its “Blue Moon blooper” in its May 1999 issue. Canadian folklorist Philip Hiscock and Texas astronomer Donald W. Olson had helped the magazine’s editors figure out how the mistake was made, and how the two-full-Moons-in-a-month meaning spread into the English language.

Full Story: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/about/pressreleases/A-Blue-Moon-Heralds-the-Harvest-167184095.html

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