The term “ Blue Moon” is said to have been a colloquial expression long before it developed its calendrical meaning. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the very first reference to a blue moon was noted in a proverb which was recorded back in 1528. “If they say the moon is blue, we must believe that it is true.” Therefore it indicated something was absurd. The next blue moon will occur on November 21, 2010. Blue Moon has two basic meanings. A blue moon can be the second full moon in a calendar month or the third of four full moons in a season. One thing blue moons are not and that is the colour blue. Particles of dust and smoke can make the moon appear to be blue but moons are not blue.
A host of scientists state that the cause of the bluish tinge to the moon is often due to droplets of water in the air. When water droplets are approximately one millionth of a meter in diameter, they scatter red and green light while allowing other colours to pass by. A white moonbeam passing through a misty cloud often turns blue and one then sees what they think is a blue moon. Fine grains of sand, grit, dust, ice crystals, smoke or volcanic ash has the very same effect. But atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley claims that “the airborne particles should be of very similar size, a micron or so in diameter”. Only then do they scatter the right amount of wavelengths of moonlight to act as a blue tinged filter.
But the ‘blue moon’ term is simply associated with a calendar oddity and nothing more. It is basically the name for a full moon. In recent times, astronomers began using the blue moon definition in order to describe the second full moon of a calendar month. The time which falls between one full moon and the next is very close to being the length of a calendar month. Consequently, the only time one month can see two full moons, is when the first full moon appears in the first few days of the month. Some scientists state that the term ‘blue moon’ originated in 1883 when volcano Krakatoa, located in Indonesia exploded. Scientists likened this to a 100-megaton nuclear bomb blast. People 600km away heard the noise as clear as a cannon shot.
Plumes of ash rose to the very top of the earth’s atmosphere. The moon then turned blue. And the reason for this is that a host of ash-clouds were filled to the very brim with particles the right size to scatter red light while allowing other colours to pass through them. The white moonbeams shone through the clouds and emerged blue tinge and sometimes greenish. After the eruption blue moons persisted for years after. Lavender suns were frequently viewed and for the very first time so where noctilucent clouds. The sunsets were so red that fire engines were frequently called out. A blue moon phenomenon was witnessed on New Year’s Eve in the United States, Africa, Canada, Europe and South America.
The full moon was not seen in Australia or Asia until New Year’s Day. What an enchanting sight it was. January was such a moon month for many. Revellers were treated to a wondrous site which coincided with a lunar eclipse. Such a coincidence has not occurred on the planet in the present and previous centuries that have ever been recorded. Data reveals that a phenomena such as this has not taken place in the twentieth or the twenty-first centuries. According to scientists this phenomena will only been witnessed again on New Years Eve in 2028 and 2066.The last time there was what scientists call a ‘lunar double-take’ was in May of 2007. New Year Blue moons are very rare indeed. They occur every 19 years.
The last time was back in 1990. According to Greg Laughlin, an astronomer from the University of California, Santa Cruz, blue moon have no astronomical significance. To astronomers ‘blue moon’ is simply a name such as ‘harvest moon’ or ‘hunter’s moon‘. But to Indians, Asian people and those who practice Hinduism and Buddhism, a blue moon is closely entwined with Astrology, Astronomy and Numerology. There are said to be other reasons for blue moons as well as those mentioned above. Our eyes have what is called ‘automatic white balances’ similar to digital cameras. If we head outdoors after being inside a tent or cabin which has been lit by an oil lamp which is a yellow light, the moon will appear to be blue until our eyes adjust.