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Get Ready To Witness The Glorious Sight Of The Blue Moon

August 19, 2021    7 min read

There’s something special and spectacular about witnessing a blue moon, which is actually blue in colour, not just in name. On August 22, the blue moon is yet again ready to illuminate the night sky. Out of the four full moons, it will be the third full moon during the astronomical season (between a solstice and equinox).

During a blue moon, the moon is aligned opposite the Sun with the Earth in between. It will reach peak illumination at 5:32 PM IST on Sunday, according to NASA, and it will appear full for almost three days, emerging as a perfect circle in the night sky. The moon attains its various phases at specific moments. But because of time zones, the local time to watch a full moon can differ based on location.

It is also known as the Blue Sturgeon Moon. The full moon appearing on August 22/23 will be a seasonal blue moon. There are two different definitions for a blue moon.

  1. A seasonal blue moon is the third full moon of an astronomical season with four full moons.
  2. A monthly blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month with two full moons.
This time the moon will be near the planets Jupiter and Saturn.

Why is it called a Blue Moon?

The ancient beliefs around the blue moon and its definition is surrounded by mystery and misinterpretations.

Many believe that the term “blue moon” which means something rare may be a result of the smoke and ashes that arise after a volcanic eruption that turned the Moon blue. Others say that the term emerged over 400 years ago when the folklorist Philip Hiscock suggested that invoking the blue moon implied something impossible and which would never happen.

Origins of the Seasonal Full Moon

The significance of a seasonal blue moon can be drawn back to the Maine Farmer's Almanac. The Almanac states that the formation of a 13th full moon in a year causes disturbance in the arrangement of Church festivals. The unfortunate reputation of the number 13 and the complications regarding the calculation of the occurrence of such a full moon resulted in the extra full moon being named a blue moon.

The reasoning lies in the Christian ecclesiastical calendar for the naming of the third full moon of the season as the blue moon. The calendar uses the phases of the moon to specify the exact dates for holidays like Lent and Easter. Labelling it as the blue moon ensured that Lent and Easter occurred simultaneously with the favourable moon phases, and other celebrations and rituals would align during the auspicious times.

The true cause behind blue moon being blue is actually a result of natural circumstances. In fact, they are a result of atmospheric conditions like volcanic ashes and smoke, water droplets in the air, or certain types of clouds that help the moon take on a blue shade on rare occasions.Moons that are totally blue in colour are incredibly rare and aren't related to the calendar or the moon's phases.

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Wrapping Up

Do you like reading about the universe, planets, and the solar system? You can uncover more about the magic of the universe by heading to the Practically App. Learn more about the science behind the universe via lifelike 3D videos, simulations, AR experiences.

We will be back with more such informative pieces on amazing Cosmic Sagas. Till then, stay tuned. Happy Learning!

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