What a blue moon has to do with Texas!

(A lot)

Blue Moons don’t really look blue in color. Greg Hogan got this shot of a Blue Moon (blue in name only!) on July 31, 2015. He wrote: “Having some fun with the blue moon idea … I blended the same image twice: one with a blue tint, and one normal. :) ” Thank you Greg! from Earthsky.org

Today’s cover shot of the gold and blue moon is, like most blue moon pictures, filtered and photo-shopped. Supposedly, you can actually see a blue moon if the dust particles in the atmosphere are super small and blocking enough red light to allow just the blue light to scatter--but those are rare (For example, the moon appeared blue across the entire Earth for about two years after the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 -- universetoday.com). I’ve never received an actual blue moon pic, but I get great Click2Pins of moons, like this waxing gibbous moon from last night:

Thanks to a Click2Pins user for posting this last night!

Waxing means the moon is going toward FULL and this weekend we have not only a full moon but a “seasonal” blue moon. What the heck? A blue moon, you might know, is the second full moon in a single month. A seasonal blue moon is the THIRD of four full moons in a season (solstice to equinox). In other words, summer officially began June 20 and we had a full moon right after on June 24, then one in July and now this one (the third) and we’ll have another on Sept. 20 right before the fall equinox Sept. 22. Follow all that? So in the time span from June 20 to Sept. 22 we will see FOUR full moons. Why is the third one called a seasonal blue moon? No one knows. It just is.

How did the term blue moon even start?

This is also up for debate as some readings will tell you the name has been around four hundred years. More recently, EarthSky notes that a writer for Sky and Telescope in 1947 mistakenly interpreted a 1936 Maine farmer’s almanac and stated that a blue moon was the second full moon in a single month. The whole blue moon idea got lost in translation until the late 1970′s when EarthSky editor-in-chief Deborah Byrd discovered that old issue of Sky and Telescope in the UT Astronomy Library and brought the definition back to life. Deborah is a native Texan from San Antonio!

Texan Deborah Byrd editor-in-chief of EarthSky

So you can thank, or blame, Texas and this Texan for the whole Blue Moon popularity! Regardless, we’ll have a clear sky and spectacular full moon viewing this weekend along with a few planets to “escort Luna” through the sky:

The Moon near the planets this weekend courtesy of Earthsky.org

Earthsky has a whole article on the seasonal blue moon right here.

A Frank Fix

You might recall my recent blog talking about the typo “catagory” in the NWS chart about hurricane damage potential:

I showed this typo in my last blog

I got in touch with NWS meteorologist Dan Reilly and he immediately sent this up the chain and got it fixed!

Thank you NWS for fixing this typo!

So we’re all good now and my OCD about typos (of which I make many, the older I get) has settled down! Thanks, Dan!

Have a fabulous weekend and if you are in Galveston the AIA Sandcastle contest on East Beach tomorrow is not to be missed!


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About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.