Find yourself marveling at tonight’s blue moon, you could stumble upon the Delta Aquarid meteor shower. Aquarids, a lessor known spectacle to summer’s show stopping Perseids, ebb and flow from July 12- August 23. Slow and steady Aquarids prefer unobtrusive reliability to all or nothing peaks. If pushed for a peak, Aquarids would utter a reluctant disclaimer – roughly the last few days of July and early August. Unfortunately, butting heads with this years’ blue moon. Although moonlight’s pollution impacts dark sky reliability of 10-20 meteors an hour, Aquarid shouldn’t be dismissed. If you prefer the cozy comforts of home – check out NASA’s All Sky Camera site, linked below the video.
For “everything you need to know about the Delta Aquarids”, another link –
Tonight’s’ full moon sets the stage for a Blue Moon on July 31st. “Blue Moon” refers to a second full moon in a calendar month. Our moon follows a 19 year loop called the Metonic Cycle – every 19 years phases of the moon recur on or near the same calendar date. Nineteen years has 228 months with 235 full moons, meaning 7 of those 228 months have a blue moon. Sometimes February’s short number of days produces 8 blue moons in a Metonic Cycle (February 2018 won’t have a full moon, pushing the extra moon to another calendar month)
Popular use of the term is credited to a 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine. Author James Hugh Pruett penned an article “Once In A Blue Moon”, Pruett inadvertently screwed up finer details when referencing the 1937 Maine Farmer’s Almanac – nevertheless “once in a blue moon” was born.
The Maine Farmers Almanac described blue moons as an extra full moon in a “season”. Each season – spring, summer, fall, winter typically has 3 full moons, when a 4th happens, the 3rd moon of that season becomes the blue moon. By this rule the next one falls on May 21, 2016. Although two distinctly different definitions exist, most people subscribe to the monthly club.
It’s possible to have 2 blue moons in a calendar year, the next time is January and March of 2018, followed by January and March 2037. Sometimes a rare year has both monthly (2 full moons in a month) and seasonal (3rd full moon of 4 in a season) – don’t hold your breath, it will be 2048 before the monthly in January, seasonal in August.
A blue moon refers to a second full moon within a calendar month. On August 31, we will witness this event.
In 1883 after the eruption of Krakatoa, the moon actually appeared to be blue, ash from the volcano was responsible. Smoke from large forest fires can do the same thing, and was reported in 1953 during a humongous muskeg fire in Canada. Similar reports came after the eruptions of Mt. St. Helens in 1980, and Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.
” Blue moon, you saw me standing alone….. ”