May 18, 2019 Blue Moon Ponder


Since the dawn of my existence “once in a blue moon” defined rarity of two full moons in a calendar month. More than that, it served as impetus for cosmic wonder. Tonight I discovered the Blue Moon of May 18, 2019 is “seasonal”, meaning the third of four full moons in a single season. How rare can that be?

Twelve months in a year, each month roughly based on a single lunar orbit of Earth. Twelve months, four seasons, three months per season. Fine, I get it – four full moons in a season is rare, but someone could have told me “once in a blue moon” had alternate meanings! There was one on November 21, 2010 another August 20, 2013 and May 21, 2016. After May 18, 2019 we won’t witness another seasonal blue moon until August 22, 2021.

An article published in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine titled Once In a Blue Moon by James Hugh Pruett, cemented blue moon in popular culture. Referring to the 1937 Maine Farmer’s Almanac,  Pruett wrote –

“Seven times in 19 years there were – and still are – 13 full moons in a year. This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two. This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon.”

Despite the fact Pruett goofed in reference to astronomical details of 1937 moons (there were 12 that year not 13 ), the term Blue Moon was born. Me – I’m still coming to terms with the fact I’ve lived 59 years and never considered blue moon anything other than 2 full moons in a calendar month. Lesson learned.

Blue Moon: All you need to know

Link to detailed list of Blue Moon dates and designation – http://www.themoonfaqs.com/2010/01/blue-moon-dates_31.html

Harvest Moon Time


The full moon closest to the fall equinox is the ” Harvest Moon” – those of us in the northern hemisphere can expect a behemoth moon rising shortly after sunset tonight. Harvest moons appear larger because of the ecliptic orbit of our moons path in relation to the earth. The same phenomenon that sees the moon rise 20 minutes or so earlier than  normal, forcing us to view it through thicker atmosphere – accounting for characteristic orange monster moons.

The harvest moon is familiar to just about everyone – our moon has many names, depending on the time of year. January brings the wolf moon; named by native Americans and medieval Europeans for the howling of hungry wolves in the dead of winter. February sees the storm, snow and hunger moon rise in the icy sky. Native Americans called the last full moon of March the worm moon after worm trails that appeared in the thawing snow. The Pink moon of April is for blossoming trees, also known as the sprouting grass, fish, and egg moon. May’s flower moon or corn planting moon is followed by the strawberry moon to native Americans or rose moon to Europeans. Native Americans saw the full moon of July as the buck moon, for male deer shedding their antlers. The sturgeon moon of August for plentiful fish, also called the green corn, grain, and red moon. September’s harvest moon is followed by the hunter’s moon in October. November has the beaver or frost moon, finally the cold or long night moon of December.

I went outside for an early howl at the harvest moon. Clouds wrapped every corner of the sky, and still the moon cast my shadow. Second thoughts on considering my neighbour’s baby, compounded by scrutiny from the old woman in the window of the retirement home, stifled my bravado. Instead I did a little moon dance while humming Neil Young’s Harvest Moon.

A link to sunrise/sunset locater…

http://www.sunrisesunset.com/predefined.asp

The link that will answer any astronomical question…..

http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/astronomical-applications/data-services

Earthsky link to Harvest Moon,,,,,

http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/harvest-moon-2