*Update: The August 31 full moon technically appeared this morning at 9 am, but you’ll still get a great view of the moon tonight. Our apologies for the confusion, and we’ve updated this post to reflect the right time of appearance. We offer this lovely tune to help make amends.
It’s a rare lunar event today in the Lone Star State (which we love around here). A blue moon appeared in the Texas skies, when a full moon appears twice in one month. (Hence the phrase, “Once in a blue moon.”)
But don’t be disappointed if the moon wasn’t exactly blue. The blue moon commonly refers only to the double appearance of a full moon, not its color. The first full moon came August 1, and just barely squeezing in for a second time today, August 31.
So if the moon isn’t blue, why is it called that? You can blame the non-mainstream media. “It was actually created by mistake by a reporter writing for Sky and Telescope magazine in the 1940s,” says Rebecca Johnson, editor of StarDate at the University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory. “But then it was repeated on our show, Stardate, in the eighties. And ever since then, that’s been the accepted definition of a blue moon.” You can read more about the lunar phenomenon over at EarthSky.
In Texas, the moon became completely full this morning at 9, but if you missed it you can still howl a little tonight. The next blue moon won’t happen again until 2015.