Blue Moon Is Coming to a Sky Near You: When & How to See It!

blue moonThe thing about astrological phenomenon that happen from time to time is they can be easy to miss unless you get up at an insane hour of the early morning where you have a three-minute window before the thing vanishes until another 83 years, or you've read up on it enough to really know what you are looking for. Face west, then look 45 degrees to the left, underneath that triangle-shaped thingy, to something slightly orangish tan ... ah! Give up, go make tea and cookies ...

But this month there's a cool astronomical event that anyone who just wants to stare and dream under a pretty sky can witness and enjoy without getting brain warp: two full moons in one month. The first one happens tomorrow night, August 1 (can you believe it's August already?). And the second, known as the Blue Moon, will appear August 31.

I love this kind of astronomy particularly because if you forget to see the first one because you are watching an important TV program, you can mark your calendar for 30 days and catch the next one. But honestly, if you're going to be anywhere outside after dark, you probably can't miss it. Two full moons in one month aren't exactly rare or uncommon -- it happens every three years or so. Still, very cool.

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The Huffington Post basically wrote an astronomical lecture on the many different theories as to how the Blue Moon got its name. But I'll spare you all that and tell you it's basically because the second moon of the month looks bluish when you stare at it. Some farmers early in this century came up with that idea. It's not unheard of for the moon to change colors from time to time, especially after volcanic eruptions or brush fires, sending soot and ash into the atmosphere and making the face of the moon appear bluish or even lavender.

Spectacular! What a fun excuse to drag your kids outside and celebrate the unofficial end of summer. And viewing instructions could not be simpler:

Wait for it to get dark.

Go outside.

Look up.

Go make tea and cookies (optional).

Are you a star-gazer? Have you ever seen a blue moon?


Image via tonynetone/Flickr

astronomy