Magazine article Natural History

Neither Blue, nor Rare

Magazine article Natural History

Neither Blue, nor Rare

Article excerpt

Whenever two full Moons occur in the same month-which happens once every 2.66 years, or so, but never in February-the second is now commonly called a "Blue Moon." When such an event occurs-as it will this month-the second full Moon will look no different than the first or any other full Moon. It certainly won't be blue, although, on past occasions, usually after forest fires or volcanic eruptions, the Moon has reportedly taken on a bluish or lavender hue. Soot and ash particles, deposited high in the Earth's atmosphere, can sometimes make the Moon appear bluish. But those occasions are not the source of the name, which is unknown but open to speculation. One theory holds that "blue" is from the Old English, belewe, or "betrayer." Therefore, a "false moon," so identified by the clergy at the time, is one that, when it comes in the spring, is not the correct Full Moon for determining Easter. …

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