My inner-nerd is giddy at times like this. Tonight as you gaze up into the sky, know that you are witnessing a rare event. Not Halley’s Comet rare by any means, but rare enough to inspire one of life’s great maxims as well as one of the most powerful and enduring love songs of all time.
You saw me standing alone
For centuries, the term blue moon defined the uncommon occurrence of a fourth full moon in a given season. This, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, has taken place 7 times every 19 years, or about once every three years.
Since 1980, however, the colorful idiom has been redefined to refer to the phenomenon of a second full moon in a month. Tonight, for the first time since March, 2010, the respective orbits of earth and our moon will afford us the atypical opportunity to bear witness to a wonder of nature that LITERALLY only ever occurs once in a blue moon.
The term does not have anything to do with the moon’s color, though at times our tidal regulator does, in fact, take on a bluish hue. A moon that is blue in tint, however, has nothing to do with its phase, but instead is brought about by particles of ash and other substances in our atmosphere – usually caused by volcanic eruptions and the breaking apart of small asteroids and meteors.
Without a dream in my heart
For citizens of the United States, the next blue moon is not scheduled to occur until July, 2015, or the better part of three years from now. So catch it tonight if you can.
And for those hoping for an unexpected gift or blessing or surprise…tonight just might be your night. After all, those kinds of things happen but once in a blue moon.
So yes, Lloyd, I’m saying there’s a chance.
Without a love of my own
There are a few things I love concerning Blue Moons:
- Neil Armstrong’s funeral, fittingly, took place today, an uncanny day involving the sphere that bears his footprint. And just as appropriately, Armstrong is that rare hero in this day and age who exuded humility, who never used his fame for personal gain and who will remain an American icon for eternity for a legendary feat as well as his own adage that belongs in the all-time pantheon of chilling phrases: For it is once in a blue moon that someone utters such powerful words as, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”
- Madeleine Hayes and David Addison’s fledgling private investigator agency, aptly named for its unlikely success pinned on the improbable but palpable chemistry of its two principles. Moonlighting’s audience would quickly yearn for the affable stars to cut the witty repartee and become a couple already, but alas, would learn the hard truth that such an event could only actually happen once in a blue moon…as long as the ratings were good.
- That today’s definition of the term Blue Moon actually stems from a mistake. An astronomer in 1946 erroneously referred to a blue moon as the second full moon in a calendar month rather than the fourth full moon in a season. This faulty report was referenced in 1980 on a popular radio show, and the “new” definition was widely popularized through the pop-culture favorite, Trivial Pursuit. Once in a blue moon, a 500 year old term gets a new definition.
- Old friends might remember a comical version of the standard I used to sing during lunch, a rendition I only revisit these days…yup…once in a blue moon.