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Blue Moon: Why August’s Moon will be unlike any other this year – and what it actually means

The night sky is about to see something so rare that it’s best known as a saying: the fabled Blue Moon.

The Moon won’t look any bluer than usual, and in fact nothing will happen to the Moon itself. And it is not even a Blue Moon in the way the phrase has come to be used recently.

Instead, it is the original meaning of Blue Moon – a “true” Blue Moon – that gave rise to the saying.

The original Blue Moon occurred when a season has four full Moons in it, rather than the traditional three. When that happens, it is the third one that takes the name the Blue Moon, as will happen this August.

That was the description given in the Maine Farmers’ Almanac, which is often used as the source for the names used traditionally for the Moons in the US.

Among other things, referring to the Moon in this way helps keep the traditional way of referring to specific Moons – the last of the season can keep its name as the “late” Moon, for instance. But extra Moons can cause all sorts of problems besides, including in the calculation of the date of church festivals, which may have given rise to the popularity of the phrase.

Such an event happens roughly every 2.7 years. The last one is in February 2019, and after this one there will not be another until August 2024.

But this is not how most people use the phrase today. The more modern definition refers to a time when one particular month has two full Moons within it.

The confusion has been traced back to a mistake made in 1946, when a contributor to Sky & Telescope misread that original description and made reference to the twice-in-a-month kind of Blue Moon. The magazine recognised its mistake in 1999, in another article, but it was too late, and the newer definition has mostly stuck around.

The next chance to see a Blue Moon by the more modern definition will come in August 2023.

More often than not, the phrase Blue Moon is not used to refer to either kind of Blue Moon, or a literal Blue Moon. It is often used in songs with the aim of recalling the sense of the word used in the blues, of loneliness or sadness.

The Moon only turns the actual colour of blue very rarely indeed. Occasionally, the eruption of volcano or large fires can put smoke in the sky that changes its colour.

Reference: Independent: Andrew Griffin : Fri, 20 August 2021

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Buck Moon: Why tonight’s full Moon has such an unusual name

The full “Buck Moon” is set to rise in the sky.

But the name doesn’t refer to anything special about the Moon itself. Instead, it is the name it takes whenever the full moon arrives in July.

As such, there won’t be anything notable to see about the Moon when it is visible in the sky, beyond all the usual view that comes with any full moon. Unlike a super moon, or a lunar eclipse, or similar celestial sights, the Moon will look the same as normal.


(As noted by some US news organisations, however, the Moon could look a little red or orange – but because of the wildfires that are burning across the west of the country, rather than any astronomical reason.)

The name Buck Moon is supposedly Native American in origin, and comes from the fact that it is around now when buck deer begin to sprout antlers from their foreheads. The Maine Farmer’s Almanac is the source of many of the names for the Moon that have become popular, which run from the Old Moon in January to the Cold Moon in December.

It is also known under a variety of different names. In Europe, it is sometimes called the Hay Moon because it comes at the time it is harvested, or the Mead Moon; those names are sometimes applied to the Moon in June too, however.

It is also the Guru Full Moon, or Guru Purnima, for Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. As noted by Nasa, that is celebrated as a “time for clearing the mind and honoring the guru or spiritual master”.

And for Theravada Buddhists, the Moon is known as Asalha Puha, Dharma Day or Esala Poya. Its arrival marks an important festival that celebrates the Buddha’s first sermon.

While this year has seen a run of supermoons, there won’t be another one for almost a year – the next one will occur on 14 June, 2022.

Reference: Independent: Andrew Griffin 

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Pink Supermoon lights up dawn skies

Skygazers were treated to a glimpse of a “pink supermoon” as the celestial event lit up the dawn skies across the globe.

But those who missed the rare event will still be able to see the Earth’s natural satellite on Tuesday evening as it appears bigger and brighter than usual.

The full moon in April is also known as the “pink moon” as it is named after pink flowers, known as phlox, which bloom in the springtime.

It is also a supermoon because the full moon will occur when it is near its closest point to the Earth in its orbit.

a large stone building: The full moon sets behind Stonehenge - Getty Images

The phenomenon was visible at dawn on April 27 and will also be seen just before sunset, as the moon rises in the east and will be visible until it sets in the west the next morning.

Anna Ross, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich said: “The average distance of the moon from the Earth is 384,400km, but the moon will reach its closest point this lunar month on April 27 at 16:24, when it will be 357,379 km away.

“The exact moment of the full moon closest to this point, so the supermoon, is also on April 27, but at 04:31.

“This means that the best times to view this supermoon will be anytime during the night of April 27 when the moon will rise in the east just before sunset and set in the west around sunrise.”

During this time, the Earth’s natural satellite will still appear around 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter.

Ms Ross said: “A supermoon is the result of a full moon occurring when the moon is near its closest point to the Earth in its orbit.

“This can happen because the moon orbits the Earth on an elliptical path, rather than a circular one.

“As this means that the moon is a little closer to us, it appears slightly bigger in the sky.”

The next supermoon will be visible in May 2021.

Reference; The Telegraph reporters  4 hrs ago