I love it when pop culture emerges from history gone awry. A blue moon, in my lifetime, has always meant the second full moon in a month. It’s a rarity that’s easy enough to keep track of and also the correct answer in Trivial Pursuit. But apparently this misinformation came from a 1946 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine, which was subsequently repeated, aired on a 1980 radio episode of StarDate, and wasn’t caught and clarified until 1999. But by then this lunar horse was already out of the barn.
If we want to get picky, a blue moon is actually the third full moon in a season —(a season being the period between a solstice and an equinox) where there are four full moons instead of the usual three. And that is what tonight’s moon is—a seasonal one. It’s the third one between September’s equinox and December’s solstice. The next one will be August 31, 2012.
The way I look at it, though, either version is a great excuse to celebrate the extraordinary. So make sure you find some time tonight between dusk and dawn to go outside, bathe in that bright blue moonlight, and let yourself be filled with awe.
Here’s one of my favorite versions of the classic Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart “Blue Moon” sung by Billie Holiday. Enjoy!