The Ugliest Secret of Blue Moon is Out: It’s a HOAX

Last updated on October 8th, 2020 at 09:45 pm

blue-moon-2020
False-color image depicting Blue Moon/Credit: Simplemost

Apart from Novel Coronavirus, there are so many exceptional things that have occurred or will occur in 2020. One of the rarest of rare exceptions of 2020 is the occurrence of the Blue moon. Yup, it will occur on Saturday, October 31, 2020.

Coincidently, this year’s blue moon is also occurring on the same date as of Halloween. Therefore, making the blue moon 2020 a Halloween blue moon.

Not to mention, the focus of this article is on the fact that Is a Blue Moon actually blue? Or, it’s just a hoax to get attention.

Here is the list of things I will be discussing in this article related to the blue moon, of course. And, if you like this article, don’t forget to share this with your family and friends. Let’s Dive In….!!!!!

  • What is a blue moon?
  • How rare is a blue moon?
  • Different blue moon definitions, BUT WHY?
  • It’s a hoax
  • Thnx to Physics, the blue moon does look blue (exceptionally)
  • When is the next blue moon?
  • when was the last blue moon?

 

What is a blue moon?

A blue moon is a rarest of rare astronomical phenomena due to the appearance of an additional full moon, sometimes seasonally, sometimes monthly, sometimes both. In other words, there are two different definitions of the Blue moon.

Seasonal Blue Moon – typically, an astronomical season lasts for 3 months. Therefore, has three full moons in a season. On the contrary, when a season has 4 full moons, the third full moon out of four becomes a blue moon.

Monthly Blue Moon – Not to mention, this definition of Blue moon is quite simple. When there are two full moons in one month, the second one becomes a blue moon.

 

How rare is a blue moon?

Well, if you ask me in a one-liner, I would say it’s quite rare. I mean, that’s why there is a phrase, “Once in a blue moon”. Jokes apart, How rare is a blue moon can only be defined by the fact that how we define the fundamental definition of a blue moon.

In fact, as I just gave you a brief about the two different blue moon definitions i.e monthly and seasonal blue moon. In order to get the answer to the questions like how often does a Blue Moon occur, let’s get to know them in detail.

Check out, The ultimate secret facts about Autumnal Equinox 2020 you never knew

 

Seasonal Blue Moon (extra month blue moon)

four-seasons-of-calendar-year
Four temperate and subpolar seasons: (above) Winter, Spring, (below) Summer, Autumn/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

According to the old saying, or you can say according to the native American culture, normally, there are three full moons within each astronomical season.

Not to mention, in a calendar year, there are four astronomical seasons. These are Summer, Autumn, Winter, and, Spring. So, whenever there are four full moons ( instead of having three) within any of the above mentioned astronomical seasons. The third full moon automatically becomes the blue moon.

Old is Gold

Generally, there are 12 full moons in a year. All the full moons have specific names depending on the time and relativeness of its seasonal occurrence, of course, given by native American people.

So, whenever we have an extra full moon, therefore, making 13 full moons in a year. As a result, in order to not to change their conventional seasonal names, the additional full moon gets the name of a full blue moon.

I mean, in this way, the traditional 12 full moons retain their lawful name relative to their seasonal occurrences.

 

Monthly Blue Moon (two full moons in one month)

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First full moon in October 2020: Harvest moon – Season of harvesting/Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The second blue moon definition is quite the opposite of the first one i.e seasonal blue moon. In fact, this definition is rather straight forward.

Whenever there are two full moons in one month, the second full moon becomes a Blue moon. In order to understand why this happens, you simply have to understand the physics behind it.

Must Read, Hence, That’s How Was The Moon Formed…!!!

Let’s do some basics. A lunar month cycle has approximately 29.6 days. On the contrary, a month has either 30 or 31 days (leave February out of it).

Therefore, suppose if the first full moon somehow occurs within the first or second day of the month. On the other hand, a month is of 31 days. As a result, we can have two full moons in one month.

Hence, this way, the second full moon becomes a blue moon. For example, in the year 2018, January and March had two full moons. In fact, not to mention, Two full moons of October 2020 are according to the monthly blue moon definition.

The first one i.e on 1 October 2020 is as per the traditional guidelines of native American culture. Hence, known as Harvest Moon. And the second one i.e on the 31st of October 2020 is an additional full moon. Therefore, goes by the name of Full Blue Moon.

 

Different blue moon definitions, BUT WHY?

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Credit: HuffPost

Frankly speaking, the first blue moon definition, i.e Seasonal blue moon is the one and only legitimate explanation for the occurrence of a blue moon.

As far as the second definition is concerned, it was nothing just a judgemental error of some amateur astronomer James Hugh Pruett. In the year 1946, in order to re-examine the old copies of the Almanac, he published an article in Sky & Telescope magazine.

Therefore, while re-evaluating the old results, he unintentionally calculated the wrong rule for the occurrence of a seasonal blue moon. Well, what he miscalculated is now famously known as the second definition for the occurrence of the blue moon.

Recommended, Indeed, the moon is moving away from earth, BUT WHY?

Soon, after his miscalculation, the wrongly interpreted definition (monthly blue moon) got widespread on popular radio and television shows of that time. And, you can see, rest is history.

I mean, in terms of popularity, the monthly blue moon definition is more popular as compared to the seasonal one.

In fact, some people even argue that the monthly full moon definition got spread like fire simply because of the article’s title that was, “Once in a Blue Moon”. I hope now you see why the second definition is too famous.

 

It’s a Hoax

blue-moon-is-not-blue-its-a-hoaxIs a Blue Moon actually blue? Or, it’s just a hoax. Well, again, in a one-liner, I would say that the blue-colored moon is definitely a hoax, simply to gain attention.

I mean, the meaning of the blue moon has nothing to do with its color. On the contrary, the only way its occurrence can be defined is by the above mentioned two ways.

According to NASA, and I quote,

Most Blue Moons look pale gray and white, indistinguishable from any other Moon you’ve ever seen. Squeezing a second full Moon into a calendar month doesn’t change the physical properties of the Moon itself, so its color remains the same – NASA

Blue Moon – Just for Symbolism

From the above argument, I can summarize that the origin of once in a blue moon or phrases like out of blue moon is just to symbolize something that is very rare.

Such is the case of the blue moon i.e in fact, a rare case scenario. I mean, it has nothing to do with its color. Not to mention, there are some instances, when a blue moon does look blue. Let’s see how and when, of course!

 

Thnx to Physics, the blue moon does look blue (exceptionally)

physics-physics-everywhere

Yup, you heard me right. There are some instances when a blue moon does look blue. In fact, any phase of the moon can look blue, only, and only if, it fulfills the required criteria.

Well, if you even have the least knowledge of basic physics, it would be quite easy for you to understand. Anyways, let’s see how!!!

If the smoke or dust particles in the Earth’s atmosphere have a size equal to the wavelength of red light i.e 1 micron. As a result, these particles can easily scatter the red light, while allowing the blue light to pass through.

In other words, you can say that particles having a size of 1 micron acts like a blue filter. Hence, the moon looks blue.

 

Noted Examples

cartoon-of-volcanic-eruption
Credit: The San Diego Union-Tribune

Only because of a volcanic eruption, or a forest fire, or even a dust storm, a  particle as big as 1 micron can reach the upper layers of the atmosphere of Earth.

According to NASA, Back in 1883, for example, people saw blue moons almost every night after the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa exploded with the force of a 100-megaton nuclear bomb.

Similarly, people also saw blue-colored Moons in 1983 after the eruption of the El Chichon volcano in Mexico. And there are reports of blue Moons caused by Mt. St. Helens in 1980 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

 

When is the next blue moon?

As I said above, there are two ways to define the occurrence of the blue moon i.e a monthly blue moon and a seasonal blue moon. As a result, there are two ways to justify the next occurrence of the blue moon.

 

 Halloween Blue Moon

halloween-blue-moon-2020
Credit: Sporcle

The next blue moon will occur on Saturday, 31 October 2020. In fact, coincidently, this year’s blue moon is also occurring on the same date as of Halloween. Therefore, making the blue moon 2020 a Halloween blue moon.

This year’s Blue moon is quite special in so many ways. I mean, not only it’s a Halloween blue moon. But also, October 31st blue moon satisfies both of the above-mentioned definitions. Confused. I will tell you how.

See, according to the monthly blue moon definition, October 31st blue moon is the second full moon of a calendar month. In other words, the first full moon in October 2020 is the harvest moon that occurred on Thursday, October 1. Therefore, satisfying the monthly blue moon definition.

On the other hand, October 31st full moon will be the third full moon out of the four full moons of the autumn season. The first full moon i.e Corn Moon occurred on Wednesday, September 2. Similarly, the second full moon of the autumn season i.e Harvest Moon occurred Thursday, October 1.

The third full moon of autumn i.e Blue Moon will occur on Saturday, October 31. And, finally, the fourth full moon i.e Beaver Moon will occur on Monday, November 30, 2020.

 

Next Monthly Blue Moon

Apart from October 31st Haloween blue moon, according to the monthly blue moon definition, the next monthly blue moon will occur on Wednesday, August 30, 2023. Simply because it will the second full moon of a calendar month.

On the contrary, the last monthly blue moon occurred on Wednesday, January 31, 2028; and Saturday, March 31, 2018.

 

Next Seasonal Blue Moon

Apart from October 31st Haloween Blue Moon, which is also a seasonal blue moon, according to the seasonal blue moon definition, the next seasonal blue moon will occur on Sunday, August 22, 2021. Simply because it will be the third full moon of the four within that season.

On the contrary, the last seasonal blue moon occurred on Saturday, May 18, 2018. And, You know the obvious reason why this full blue moon was a seasonal blue moon.

 

Final Words

The blue moon is definitely not blue. If it looks blue, it’s because of the presence of smoke and dust particle in the atmosphere. Don’t Forget, particle size has to be equal to 1 micron to act as a blue filter.

There are two ways to define the blue moon. First, Seasonal Blue moon i.e when a season has 4 full moons, the third full moon out of four becomes a blue moon.

Second, Monthly Blue Moon i.e when there are two full moons in one month, the second one becomes a blue moon.

The next Blue Moon is not only a Halloween blue moon. The October 31st blue moon is also monthly as well as a seasonal blue moon. Simply because it full fills the criteria of both.

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About Atul Sinha

I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my carrier, and therefore I just completed my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as like ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every part of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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