News Irish News

Thursday 8 December 2016

Blue Moon in the skies tonight set to get the nation humming

John von Radowitz

Published 31/07/2015 | 13:31

The moon rises over Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, as people gather in anticipation the night before a 'blue moon', which will officially rise on Friday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 30, 2015. The term blue moon refers to the second of two full moons appearing in the same calendar month. See PA story SCIENCE Moon. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
The moon rises over Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, as people gather in anticipation the night before a 'blue moon', which will officially rise on Friday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 30, 2015. The term blue moon refers to the second of two full moons appearing in the same calendar month. See PA story SCIENCE Moon. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
People are silhouetted against a rising blue moon as they ride an attraction at Worlds of Fun amusement park camp. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A blue moon rises behind Brooklyn seen from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A blue moon rises behind the torch of the Statue of Liberty seen from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A cyclist rides his mountain bike as a full moon, known as the Blue Moon, rises in a park in Rome. Reuters/Max Rossi
A full moon, known as the Blue Moon, rises behind a telecommunication tower over the Camlica Hill in Istanbul, Turkey. Reuters/Murad Sezer
The effect known as Blue Moon is seen over the Statue of Liberty in New York. Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
The moon rises over a statue on the Whitley Bay Dome, on Tyneside, as the UK experiences its first 'blue moon' since 2012. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
A full moon, known as the Blue Moon, is seen next to the Statue of Liberty in New York July 31, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
A full moon, known as the Blue Moon, is seen over the Staten Island Ferry while it makes its way to New York July 31, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
A full moon, known as the Blue Moon, is seen over the Staten Island Ferry while it makes its way to New York July 31, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
The effect known as Blue Moon is seen next to the Statue of Liberty while a man jogs in New York July 31, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
The moon rises over Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, as people gather in anticipation of Friday's 'Blue Moon'. Ben Birchall/PA Wire
REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
The effect known as Blue Moon is seen next to the Statue of Liberty in New York July 31, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
People are silhouetted against a rising full moon as they ride an attraction at Worlds of Fun amusement park Thursday, July 30, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
The moon shines over the O2, London, the night before a blue moon. Ian West/PA Wire
The moon shines over the O2, London, the night before a blue moon. Ian West/PA Wire
The moon over the Beatles statues on Penny Lane, Liverpool, the night before a blue moon. Peter Byrne/PA Wire
The moon shines over the O2, London, the night before a blue moon. Ian West/PA Wire
The moon shines over the O2, London, the night before a blue moon. Ian West/PA Wire
The moon over the Beatles statues on Penny Lane, Liverpool, the night before a blue moon.Peter Byrne/PA Wire
The moon rises over a statue on the Whitley Bay Dome, on Tyneside, as the UK experiences its first 'blue moon' since 2012. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The moon rises over a statue on the Whitley Bay Dome, on Tyneside, as the UK experiences its first 'blue moon' since 2012. Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
The moon over the Beatles statues on Penny Lane, Liverpool, the night before a blue moon. Peter Byrne/PA Wire
The moon rises over Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, as people gather in anticipation the night before a 'blue moon', which will officially rise on Friday. Ben Birchall/PA Wire

A certain catchy tune will be hard to avoid tonight as the full moon sets the nation humming.

  • Go To

Not just any full moon, a "blue moon" - the first to occur since 2012 and the last until 2018.

But anyone hoping to see the dazzling spectacle of a glowing sapphire celestial body crossing the sky will be sadly disappointed. A blue moon (usually) is silvery grey, like any other.

The term "blue moon" refers to the second of two full moons appearing in the same calendar month.

It has more significance for astrologers than astronomers, marking a time of upset, change and possibilities.

Then there's that mournful ballad, Blue Moon, one of the most infectious earworms ever written. Composed by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1934, it was a hit on three occasions and covered by Elvis Presley in 1956.

The phrase "once in a blue moon" describes an event that is rare or special.

In fact calendar blue moons are not so incredibly rare. The last one occurred on August 31, 2012, and the next will be seen in another three years on January 31, 2018.

Tonight's lunar phase on July 31 fits the calendar definition of "blue" because there was another full moon on July 2.

To make things more complicated, there is a different "seasonal" definition that says a blue moon is the third of four full moons in one season. According to this definition, this full moon is not blue at all. The next seasonal blue moon is not due until May 26, 2016.

Just occasionally the moon really can be coloured blue - but you normally need to be near a volcanic eruption to see the phenomenon.

In 1883, blue moons appeared almost every night after the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa exploded with the force of a nuclear bomb.

Plumes of ash rising high into the atmosphere acted like a filter only allowing blue moonlight to pass through the tiny particles.

Blue coloured moons were also seen in 1983 after the eruption of the El Chichon volcano in Mexico. There were other reports of blue moons caused following the Mount St Helens and Mount Pinatubo volcanic eruptions in 1980 and 1991.

Wildfires producing smoke containing one micron-wide ash particles can also produce a properly blue moon.

Blue moons are due to the difference between calendar and lunar months. While a calendar month lasts from 28 to 31 days, a lunar month - the time interval between two full moons - is always 29.53 days long.

Press Association

Read More

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News