Turn your eyes to the skies Friday morning for a rare cosmic event that occurs, well, once in a blue moon.
July 31 marks the second full moon of the calendar month, also known as the “blue” moon.
Typically, the Earth experiences 12 full moons each year, one in each month. But some years have 13 full moons, and one of those extra moons is called a blue moon.
This happens because the lunar month averages about 29.53 days, according to Space.com. This is shorter than most calendar months, so the extra days accumulate throughout the year, eventually resulting in 13 full moons some years.
The blue moon occurs roughly once every 2.7 years, but if you blink, you’ll miss it. While most observers perceive the full moon as lasting one night, technically it’s an instantaneous event that occurs when the earth, moon, and sun fall in a straight line.
If you want to catch the true blue moon this Friday, turn your gaze on the moon at exactly 6:43 a.m. EDT.
As you’re pondering the glowing orb, consider this: What we now consider a blue moon is the result of a historic mistake. The blue moon was originally defined by the Maine Farmers’ Almanac as the third full moon in a three-month season that has four moons rather than the usual three.
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. -1 Corinthians 15:41 (KJV).
In a 1946 article, Sky & Telescope Magazine misinterpreted that definition as the second full moon in a calendar month, which is how it is defined today. Friday’s blue moon is the second full moon in July. The first occurred July 2, the second will be July 31.
Despite its moniker, the blue moon isn’t actually blue. Some have posited that the name comes from the Old English word “belewe,” meaning to betray, because the blue moon betrays the usual one full moon per month norm, by which farmers once marked the changing of seasons.
And while the blue moon isn’t actually blue, it may look blue to some observers. In fact, any moon can be blue if a volcanic eruption, forest fire, wildfire or other event blows a significant amount of ash into the atmosphere. That’s because particles from the smoke or ash are about as wide as the wavelength of red light, which means they scatter red light but allow blue light to pass through. The particles act as a blue filter, and earthly observers perceive the moon as blue.
The blue moon really does only occur once in a blue moon, however, so lunar fans should set their alarms Friday morning. The next blue moon won’t occur until 2018.
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And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke -Acts 2:19 (KJV).
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: – Genesis 1:14 (KJV).
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork -Psalm 19:1 (KJV).
Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth- Isaiah 40:26 (KJV).
Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:- Amos 5:8 (KJV).