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Astronomy News: How Often Does a Blue Moon Occur?

Updated on July 13, 2013

A blue moon will occur this week on August 31, 2012. What is a blue moon, do you ask? Well, break out your astronomy books and let's take a look at this rare phenomenon and learn more about earth's nearest "friend", the moon!

Will the Moon Really be the Color Blue?

No, the moon will not actually be the color blue. There are actually two existing definitions of a Blue Moon:

An article “Once in a Blue Moon” by James Pruett published in the March 1946 Sky & Telescope magazine declared that the second full moon in a calendar month is called a Blue Moon. Since the period between two full moons is about 29 ½ days, this occurs somewhat rarely. This definition originated from a simplified definition of a Blue Moon from the Maine Farmer’s Almanac.

The actual definition of a Blue Moon in the 1937 Maine Farmer’s Almanac is actually quite different. A Blue Moon was defined as the third full moon of four in a season. Since one season (fall, winter, spring, and summer) typically has only 3 full moons, this is again a rare occurrence.

Since then, the term “once in a blue moon” has come to refer to something that occurs rarely or is almost impossible.

How did the term Blue Moon originate?

One theory for the origination of the term was from old English term “belewe” which means “to betray”.

How often do Blue Moons occur?

On average, a Blue Moon happens every 33 months (or every 2-3 years). February will never have a Blue Moon; months that have 31 days have a much better chance.

Can you have more than one Blue Moon in a year?

Yes, the last time this occurred was in 1999 and next one will be in 2018.

Can the moon ever look blue?

Actually this has occurred in the past primarily due to dust or smoke in the atmosphere. This can alter the appearance of the moon to take on a bluish tint.

The next Blue Moon will be on July 31, 2015.

For more astronomy information, is another great resource for up to date astronomy news daily.



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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Our friends held a Blue Moon party for their children and grandchildren and they are already planning the next one! Thanks look at a not-very-common day. :)

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      This short hub, is packed with more wonderfully interesting info about the Blue Moon, than a lengthy,boring report!! I love this. Very interesting information to pass along, the next time someone mentions, "Once in a Blue Moon."

      Your readers can now, just jump in and sound like an astrology professor!! LOL.....Thanks so much for this. THIS is Google worthy for sure!......UP+++

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      I love this article! I have always heard that phrase and never knew the origin of it. This is an amazing article and I learned so much from it. Well done and well written!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      That was absolutely fascinating! Its one of those things that we take for granted, and yet when asked about we say, I have no idea why its called that! well now I know! lol! and thanks for the info, voted up! and shared, nell