White Dog and The White Dog Army have dragged beds and sleeping blankets out to the deck in preparation for tonight’s Blue Moon; they are looking forward to a second chance this month for a good old-fashioned howlfest. I haven’t told them yet, but Steve has planned a surprise road trip out to the mesa to view moonrise if it is clear…and then perhaps a celebratory stop for Blue Moon Ice Cream at the local parlor.
For those unaware, a Blue Moon is when there are 2 full moons in one month. According to www.moongiant.com a full moon occurs roughly every 29.5 days and on the rare occasions when the full moon falls at the very beginning of a month there is a good chance a Blue Moon will occur at the end of the month. According to this definition tonight is a Blue Moon.
Depending on the exact time of the Blue Moon it is possible that some places in the world don't technically have a Blue Moon. As an example the Blue Moon on August 31, 2012 occurs exactly at 13:58 UT. The Blue Moon will occur tonight, August 31, for South America, North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, India, and Australia but New Zealand will just miss out. For New Zealand the Full Moon occurs just past mid-night on September 1st. The first full moon of the month happened August 2.
What is thrilling with the 2012 blue moon is that it concurs with the funeral service of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. NVNews Norther Voices Online nvonews.com tells us the funeral service of the great astronaut took place today in Cincinnati, when the western hemisphere will emerge a blue moon. It looks that the heroic astronaut, who passed away last Saturday at his 82nd age, is really getting the honor of nature itself.
Blue moon occurs seven times in 19 years, says QUT astrophysicist Dr Stephen Hughes. In fact, it happens as a calendar catch-up. When the Gregorian calendar has around 30 days, the moon takes about 27 days to round the earth. Therefore, there is a desynchronization between the calendars, which result in the intermittent blue moon occurrence.
There is nothing particular in the color blue with the blue moon. The moon does not change its hue during the occasion. However, due to the change of particles in the air, the moon may have a different hue, which may be either be a “blood moon” or “honeymoon,” comments Bill Kreiger, a professor of earth sciences and science education. That is, the blue moon may get different shades including red, yellow or even blue as far as the particle changes in the air are concerned.
“When it is high in the sky, the moon shines with a white light reflected from the sun. At moonrise the moon can appear either yellow or orange but when there’s a lot of smoke in the air, after a forest fire, for example the moon can appear red,” he adds.
You needn’t take any precaution to look at the blue moon. It is just like the full moon of all other days. Just go outside and gaze at the sky in the night. If you don’t like to get out of house, you can just keep open online services like the Slooh Space Camera for the live coverage of the blue moon in the sky. But act tonight, the next Blue Moon doesn’t happen until July 31, 2015. The WDA will be listening for your howls of greeting to September.