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VIDEO, Watch Out for the Blue Moon

Science & Tech  (tags: VIDEO, astronomy, moon, full moon, blue moon )

- 2116 days ago -
When someone says "Once in a Blue Moon," you know what they mean: Rare, seldom, even absurd. This year it means August 31st. For the second time this month, the Moon is about to become full. There was one full Moon on August 1st/2nd, and now a

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Beatrice B (112)
Thursday August 30, 2012, 2:59 am
But will the moody Moon of August 31st actually turn blue? Probably not.

Most Blue Moons look pale gray and white, indistinguishable from any other Moon you've ever seen. Squeezing a second full Moon into a calendar month doesn't change the physical properties of the Moon itself, so its color remains the same.

With that caveat in mind, however, be aware that on rare occasions it can happen.

A truly-blue Moon usually requires a volcanic eruption. Back in 1883, for example, people saw blue moons almost every night after the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa exploded with the force of a 100-megaton nuclear bomb. Plumes of ash rose to the very top of Earth's atmosphere, and the Moon … it turned blue!
Krakatoa's ash was the reason. Some of the plumes were filled with particles 1 micron wide, about the same as the wavelength of red light. Particles of this special size strongly scatter red light, while allowing blue light to pass through. Krakatoa’s clouds thus acted like a blue filter.

People also saw blue-colored Moons in 1983 after the eruption of the El Chichon volcano in Mexico. And there are reports of blue Moons caused by Mt. St. Helens in 1980 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

Certain forest fires can do the same trick. A famous example is the giant muskeg fire of Sept. 1953 in Alberta, Canada. Clouds of smoke containing micron-sized oil droplets produced lavender suns and blue Moons all the way from North America to England.
There are plenty of wildfires burning in the hot, dry USA this month. If any of them produce smoke with an extra dose of micron-sized particles, the full Moon might really turn blue.

On the other hand, maybe it will turn red. Often, when the moon is hanging low, it looks red for the same reason that sunsets are red. The atmosphere is full of aerosols much smaller than the ones injected by volcanoes. Measuring less than a micron in diameter, these aerosols scatter blue light, while leaving the red behind. For this reason, red Blue Moons are far more common than blue Blue Moons.

Sounds absurd? Yes, but that's what a Blue Moon is all about. Step outside at sunset on August 31st, look east at the moonrise, and see what color presents itself.

Barbara K (60)
Thursday August 30, 2012, 5:11 am
Thanks for the info, my friend. I've been watching the moon the last 2 nights, looking forward to tomorrow night, hoping that the clouds from the hurricane won't be overhead by then.

Stan B (123)
Thursday August 30, 2012, 1:43 pm
Interesting as always. Thanks B.

Karen Martinez (17)
Friday August 31, 2012, 8:26 pm
Went out and took a look at it. My 16 year old pointed out that it was yellow, and not blue. Such an observant child. Guess she's a bit too literal at this point.

John B (185)
Friday August 31, 2012, 10:00 pm
Thanks Beatrice for the link to the NASA Science News article by Dr. Tony Phillips and for the video. The next "blue" moon will occur in 2015. Read.viewed and noted.

Richelle Rausch (43)
Friday August 31, 2012, 10:21 pm
Isn't a blue moon a second full moon in one month? And isn't it also called the harvest moon?

Beatrice B (112)
Saturday September 1, 2012, 4:45 am
Which one is the harvest moon, Richelle?

Jason Topps (9)
Saturday September 1, 2012, 9:59 am
Very informative, worked a night shift and managed to see a crystal clear full moon with bluish craters visible. A fabulous site. Noted

Janet B (36)
Saturday September 1, 2012, 1:47 pm
Well that is Nature!

Kate Kenner (215)
Saturday September 1, 2012, 1:52 pm
The Harvest Moon comes in September.
I saw the blue moon appear in our part of the world last night. It came up gold and was gorgeous.

Kate Kenner (215)
Saturday September 1, 2012, 1:53 pm
A most interesting article. Thanks.

Fred Krohn (34)
Saturday September 1, 2012, 2:02 pm
Nice funerary marker for Neil Armstrong...

Diane K (134)
Saturday September 1, 2012, 3:54 pm
noted. thanks

Christeen A (371)
Saturday September 1, 2012, 4:58 pm
Thanks for this interesting article.

Mary Donnelly (47)
Saturday September 1, 2012, 5:57 pm
Thanks Beatrice.

patrica and edw jones (190)
Saturday September 1, 2012, 9:34 pm
One can but hope for a Blue moon - just once anyway. Thanks Beatrice.

Gloria H (88)
Saturday September 1, 2012, 10:09 pm
strange, I didn't see store ads for "Blue Moon Specials" you'd think they'd take advantage of anything for a sale right now. Too late, wait till 2015 eh?

Roberta Z (16)
Sunday September 2, 2012, 6:42 am
I actually got to see this one and it wasn't blue, just really large and white. I'll have to check up on the date for the harvest moon, I know it comes later in the fall because the last time I watched it, it was only about 40 degrees out that night.

paul m (93)
Sunday September 2, 2012, 9:20 am


Parvez Zuberi (7)
Monday September 3, 2012, 12:44 am
thanks for interesting article

christina t (22)
Monday September 3, 2012, 4:09 am
Interesting video. I showed the moon to my 12 year old son, who said it looked like a normal moon, which it did, pale grey. I think it is the first time I have consciously ever seen a Blue moon" although I have always know the expression and of course the song.

Sara T (3)
Monday September 3, 2012, 10:07 am
It's been a beautiful full moon to gaze at and howl at.

Past Member (0)
Monday September 3, 2012, 12:11 pm
Interesantan video,hvala

Marianna molnar woods (9)
Tuesday September 4, 2012, 3:30 am

Reuben Ng (1)
Tuesday September 11, 2012, 10:18 am
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