Every so often an event takes place that reminds me quite how incredible our universe is. January's Super Blood Wolf Moon and the Full Pink Moon, to name a couple, were truly breathtaking sights to behold. Now, this month, I'm marking the Seasonal Blue Moon, or Full Flower Moon, to my calendar. Of course, you should too, and here's what you should know.
What Is a Blue Moon?
Despite its name and many of the pictures that show up when you search it, a Blue Moon rarely actually appears blue in the sky-but that's not to say it never does, Space.com writes. Though this might be the case, witnessing this month's Blue Moon is still something to check off your bucket list. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, the modern understanding of Blue Moons didn't actually stick until the 1980s. Essentially, a Blue Moon is a full moon, but a special one at that.
Types of Blue Moons
The Almanac continues by outlining the two types of Blue Moons Earth dwellers can witness. The first, a Seasonal Blue Moon and the second, a Calendrical Blue Moon.
Seasonal Blue Moon: Typically each season has three full moons, but rarely a season will have a fourth full moon. When this happens, like it is going to this year, the third full moon of the season is called a Blue Moon.
Calendrical Blue Moon: Similarly, if two full moons happen in one month, the second full moon of the month is a Blue Moon. Since the moon takes approximately 29.5 days to complete a cycle, the month's first full moon must take place on the first of the month, so the second can happen 29.5 days later.
When Will It Take Place?
The next Blue Moon will be on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 5:11 p.m. ET, and it will be of the seasonal variety, because it is the third of four full moons to take place in Spring 2019. As The Almanac reports, this Blue Moon will be a Full Flower Moon.
This is because, "during Native American and Colonial times...the May full moon marked a time of increasing fertility, with temperatures warm enough for safely bearing young, a near end to late frosts, and plants in bloom." While some communities called the May full moon a Full Flower Moon, others named it a Mother's Moon, Milk Moon, or Corn Planting Moon.
Is It Rare?
As Space.com shares, the last seasonal Blue Moon took place just over three years before this month's will occur (on May 21, 2016), so the phrase "once in a Blue Moon" is most likely connected to the Calendrical Blue Moon in which two full moons happen in one month, which is rare because of the 29.5 day moon cycle mentioned above.
Speaking of rarity, though, it's important to note that the rarest Blue Moon is one that actually looks the color by which it's named. A literal blue moon? Definitely something to witness in a lifetime.
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