Look up at the sky tonight and you’ll witness a rare blue moon…
A timely cosmic salute to the late Neil Armstrong, whose memorial service happens to be today and whose family have asked us to pay tribute by looking at the moon and giving the astronaut a wink.
Photo © NASA. Earth’s moon, photographed by the Expedition 28 crew aboard the International Space Station.
A blue moon occurs when there’s a second full moon in one calendar month, an uncommon lunar event that has come to signal something rare. It won’t happen again in fact until July 2015. Usually months have only one full moon, but occasionally a second one sneaks in, this happens every two and a half years, on average.
But tonight, despite folklore, the moon won’t actually turn blue. According to NASA ‘a truly blue moon usually requires a volcanic eruption’ like in 1883 for example, when the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa exploded with nuclear bomb force and volcanic ash clouds acted like a blue filter in the atmosphere. ‘Certain forest fires can perform the same trick’ says NASA, depending on the size and makeup of the particles distributed.
This evening, August 31st 2012, as the moon rises in the east make sure to glance skyward and give it a knowing nod. If you’ve got a camera, please take a picture and share it with us on Facebook. We’d love to see what the moon looks like in your part of the world.
Until then, check out this blue moon video by Science @ NASA: