Is This a Blue Moon?

Full Moon over Fairfield Glade, Tennessee. November 21, 2010.

Sunday evening’s full moon is the first in November, so most people would say that it is not a blue moon.  A full moon is considered to be a blue moon when it is the second full moon of the month.

BUT . . .  This definition of a blue moon came about in 1943 in an article written for Sky & Telescope magazine.  Prior to that, according to an article written in 1937 for Maine Farmers’ Almanac, a blue moon was the third of four full moons in a season.

Names were assigned to each moon in a season:  For example, the first moon of summer was called the early summer moon, the second was the midsummer moon, and the last was called the late summer moon.

Seven times in 19 years there are 13 full moons in a calendar year, which means that one season that year has four full moons.  When a particular season has four full moons, the third was called a blue moon so that the fourth and final one could continue to be called the late moon.

The full moon on November 21 was the third of the autumn season this year — the first two were September 23 and October 22.  The fourth full moon of autumn in 2010 will occur 2:13 a.m. CST on December 21, 15 hours and 25 minutes before the solstice and the arrival of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.  So according to the Maine Almanac rule, the third full moon of the 2010 fall season on November 21 was a blue moon.

I don’t know if this should be called a blue moon or not.  All I know is that it was beautiful.

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17 Responses to “Is This a Blue Moon?”

  1. Mildred Says:

    That’s a lovely photo George and a very interesting post.

  2. Sandra Says:

    well now, this is all news to me. my first thought was it doesn’t look blue to me, now i see why they say once in a blue moon, it means no often. you are right. it is beautiful whether or not is a blue moon or not.

  3. Susie Says:

    Not sure if it is a blue moon or not but it is beautiful. I couldn’t help but noticing it last night.

  4. MaryBeth Says:

    I read that too so this is supposed to be a ‘blue moon’. Remember the saying–once in a blue moon’–LOL. Though technically it happens more than once but why question it–right. Anyway it was beautiful and huge and I did get a good shot of it. YAY!! MB MB

  5. Karin Says:

    Even if it’s hanging behind the clouds, like ours was last night, I’m glad it’s up there to watch through the night. Interesting post but I’ll never keep that all straight, lol! Lovely photo though of this month’s full moon!

  6. Ginny Hartzler Says:

    Don’t make me do math this early in the day, George! All I care is that it’s beautiful!!

  7. Tricia Says:

    I didn’t know anything about that, so thank you!

  8. Neal Says:

    Lovely photo. Did you take that with you 300mm lens?

  9. Happyone Says:

    Interesting about all the moons. I heard someone say that this moon was also called a Harvest Moon. Whatever it’s called, it certainly is beautiful.

  10. Ruth Hiebert Says:

    Now I have learned something new.I had often heard the phrase’ once in a blue moon’,but had no idea why it was called that.

  11. busy bee suz Says:

    That is gorgeous…and now I have the BLUE moon song stuck in my head. 🙂

  12. ewok1993 Says:

    I’m totally with you in the “beautiful” part. Happy Thanksgiving.

  13. NCMountainwoman Says:

    And tonight it’s orange! So gorgeous.

  14. Loren McGhee Says:

    What a great lesson you’ve given us today George! It made me think of my Daddy! He Loved to look at the Moon and stars and studied them alot! I was thrilled to find out he left his huge telescope to my son when he passed. It has brought us great joy and it is soo amazing to see all of Gods creation twinkling up there!!

    I think it’s sooo beautiful as well!

  15. Judy Says:

    I have never heard that before, but I do like the explanation!
    And the sunset contrails in the next post are beautiful!

  16. life ramblings Says:

    i haven’t heard anything like that before but it does look beautiful.

  17. Kathy Says:

    It WAS beautiful! I say we call it a blue moon!

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