Twice is a Blue Moon

There will be a full moon tonight, Aug. 31. What makes this moon more special than all the other full moons is that it is referred to as a “Blue Moon.”

The last full moon…taken in Marion, Iowa. The “blue moon” occurring tonight will be the last one until 2015. (Photo by Cynthia Petersen)

The term has long been used to describe rare or absurd happenings, as in “once in a blue moon.”

According to, farmers  once used it to describe the third full moon in a season (spring, summer,  autumn or winter) that has four full moons, instead of the usual three. But most people know it as a second full moon in one month.

The next blue moon won’t occur until 2015.

Upon digging deeper, I found out that the earliest recorded English usage of the term “blue moon” (according to Wikipedia) was in a 1524 pamphlet violently attacking the English clergy,entitled “Rede Me and Be Not Wrothe” (“Read me and be not angry”; or possibly “Counsel Me and Be Not Angry”): “If they say the moon is belewe / We must believe that it is true” [If they say the moon is blue, we must believe that it is true].

So, no, most moons are not blue, but can take on a bluish tint, according to some experts, mostly from dust and smoke.

With the recent passing of astronaut Neil Armstrong, it seems only fitting that we take a moment to think about what it must have felt like to be the first human being to step foot on such a massive rock.

Not only did Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” open the doors for even more space exploration, but he changed the very way we think. No more did the idea of flying to the moon seem outrageous; they did it.

And now we can sit back and watch (on our high-definition, 3-D televisions sets, and our smartphones and computers) video and photos from Mars that are made possible by a landrover that traveled millions of miles.

Wow. Do you think it’s possible that the small step one man took was enough to open the minds of so many?

You bet it did. And it will continue to do so, as long as we keep looking toward the moon and the stars, and remember where it all started.

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