- Education and Science
What is a blue moon
What is a Blue Moon?
It is sung about, dreamt about, acclaimed the world over and yet possibly very few people have ever seen one or know what it is. Do you?
It is the same satellite to the earth that has rotated around it for millions, if not billions, of years. It affects the tides, the growth of plants, the way we act, and it impacts on lovers and others at all times. It is the thing that makes the night so interesting and which encourages us to turn our gaze skywards whenever it appears, even when that happens during the day. But when does the moon turn blue?
If it doesn't actually change color then why do we say it does? Perhaps the answers below will satisfy the mind in resolving this puzzle.
The Event Called a Blue Moon
Its possible origins
The solar bodies are important in earth's history as many of the ancient cultures used them for things like navigation, worship of their gods, setting their calendars and so on. The sun being the main body was Mother god of the day and the moon was her consort. 'Mon' is 'man' in Scot and is the origin of the term 'moon'. Many ancient icons showed the sun as the Queen of Heaven and the Moon as her mate. The 'man' as moon gave rise to the tale of the 'man in the moon', which of course no one can see.
Religious events were planned by the appearance and disappearance of the consort. The new moon, quarter moon, full moon and waning moon were important milestones in all cultures researched by me. When the Catholic Church was established in 325 AD by Constantine he quickly altered the relationship to equinox and the crucifixion of god-men and related it to the moon. This was to camouflage its roots in Roman sun worship. Easter Sunday became the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon (PFM) date for the year.
"In June 325 A.D. astronomers approximated astronomical full moon dates for the Christian church, calling them Ecclesiastical Full Moon (EFM) dates. From 326 A.D. the PFM date has always been the EFM date after March 20 (which was the equinox date in 325 A.D.)" (source http://www.assa.org.au/edm.html#Method).
Whilst not too much evidence remains of the tricks employed by the clergy to achieve the change there is something written in history that brings a light onto the event. Apparently the term 'Blue Moon' comes from folklore and pagan worship. "Folklore gave each moon a name according to its time of year. A moon which came too early had no folk name - and was called a blue moon - bringing the correct seasonal timings for future moons." (source Wikipedia). From the same source comes this snippet "The Farmers' Almanac defined blue moon as an extra full moon that occurred in a season; one season was normally three full moons. If a season had four full moons, then the third full moon was named a blue moon."
Whatever its origin the Blue Moon is a great romantic favorite having been sung about, dreamt over, used in movies and mysteries for decades. It has just recently been seen in the South Eastern Skies over Australia. It was bigger and closer to the earth than normal and many took pictures as they pondered why it was called by that name.
Blue Moon by Elvis Presley
Moonlight Serenade - Glen Miller and Frank Sinatra
There is almost no limit to the number of tunes dedicated to the moon. This lens shows some of them but you can probably think of dozens more.
Moon River - Audrey Hepburn
Breakfast at Tiffany's
The Moon is Blue - The Movie
Its Not Really Blue
So why do people call it the Blue Moon. Is it because it only happens once in a blue moon, that is only occasionally, or is it because that's what everyone else calls it.?
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© 2010 norma-holt