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Is That Full Moon a Blue Moon or Not?

Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

Have you taken the time to look at that great big “Blue Moon” each evening rising in the eastern sky the past two days? Someone called it a “Blue Moon” yesterday, to which I questioned it being so. By definition a “Blue” moon is the term for a second full moon within one calendar month. With this current full moon occurring on August 21 and 22, I thought it quite odd that the second full moon would come this early in the month. So, I did some research on it.

The term Blue Moon was originally assigned to the third full moon in a four moon season (with season being winter, spring, summer, and fall), but after a mix up in “Sky & Telescope” Magazine in 1943, the term took on a different meaning. An article in the magazine incorrectly defined a blue moon as the second full moon in a single month, but that definition has stuck over time and the initial definition has faded from the memories of most.

I, for one, had never heard of the third full moon in a four moon season definition until now. This particular full or “blue” moon is also called the Sturgeon Moon based upon old Indian thoughts that sturgeon were more readily caught during this time of year and month when the moon was full. It’s also known in some parts as the Green Corn Moon or Grain Moon as well.

It’s probably more lunar information than you wanted but now you know.

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