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Black and Blue

Just about every month, there will be one full moon. Every 19 years or so (always in February) there won’t be a full moon. This is sometimes called the Black Moon and is not a favorite among werewolves. Then there are months when we have two full moons and the second one of the month is called a Blue Moon. How often does this happen? Come on - how many of you said “once in a blue moon”? You’d be correct, of course, but more specifically this happens every 2 years, 8 months and 18 days or thereabouts. This year a Blue Moon occurs on Halloween. Of course it does, it’s 2020. The next blue moon won’t happen again until August 2023.

Every full moon has a name and many cultures have different names for the different months. In the US, the names for 2020 are:

January – Wolf Moon

February – Snow Moon

March – Worm Moon

April – Pink Moon

May – Flower Moon

June – Strawberry Moon

July – Buck Moon

August – Sturgeon Moon

September – Corn Moon

October (1) – Harvest Moon

October (31) – Blue Moon

November – Beaver Moon

December – Cold Moon

Some of the Chinese names for full moons are pretty cool: Holiday Moon, Budding Moon, Sleepy Moon, Peony Moon, Dragon Moon, Lotus Moon, Hungry Ghost Moon (yikes!), Chrysanthemum Moon, Kindly Moon, White Moon, and Bitter Moon.

Did you know that we only ever see one side of the moon? Maybe this is what inspired Pink Floyd to write “Dark Side of the Moon” but, in reality, there is no dark side of the moon. According to Space.com: “Long ago, the Earth's gravitational effects slowed the moon's rotation about its axis. Once the moon's rotation slowed enough to match its orbital period (the time it takes the moon to go around Earth) the effect stabilized. Many of the moons around other planets behave similarly.” So we only ever see one side of the moon (the one with the guy’s face on it).

There are other meanings of the term “Blue Moon” – and many of them began long before its current use. Skyandtelescope.org says the original meaning had nothing to do with there being two full moons in a month. The term ‘blue Moon’ has been around…well over 400 years, but its calendrical meaning has become widespread only in the last 25 years.” It‘s been used as a term for absurdity, or one that meant “uncommon”. It’s also been used (generally in songs) as an expression of sadness…”Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone, without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own”, and it’s a beer.

So this year, if you can go trick-or-treating, look up in the sky while you’re out and about. The man in the blue moon will be keeping an eye out for you. And, of course - wear a mask!

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