News

Blue moon

Wednesday, September 05, 2012    

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OBSERVER Senior Photo Editor Michael Gordon was among skywatchers across the world who jumped at the opportunity to photograph the full moon last Saturday.

Gordon said he caught the so-called "blue moon" from the Observer's interior parking lot using a 600mm lens with a 2X teleconverter on his Nikon D300.

The full moon was the second to rise during August, following the one on August 1. This, according to scientists, "qualifies it as a blue moon, according to the popularly accepted (but incorrect) definition of the term".

"Blue moon, originally referred to the third full moon in a season that has four full moons instead of the usual three. But in 1946, a writer for Sky and Telescope magazine erroneously reported the

second-full-moon-in-month meaning, and the definition stuck," an article on SPACE.com said.

"Blue moons aren't actually blue, unless clouds of smoke or volcanic ash in the Earth's atmosphere lend them that particular hue. Rather, they usually look like any other full moon," the SPACE.com article said.

"Blue moons occur because lunar months and calendar months aren't perfectly synched. It takes the moon

29.5 days to zip around our planet, during which time we see the satellite go through all of its phases. But Earth's months all have 30 or 31 days (except February), so once in a while two full moons get squeezed into a single month," the article said.

The last blue moon occurred on December 31, 2009. The next one will come along on July 31, 2015.

The next year that will see two blue moons is 2018, SPACE.com said.

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