By Rebecca Canales,
Founder and CEO of Whittier 360 News Network
Whittier, California - As the summer nights embrace us with their warmth, a celestial spectacle is about to grace the skies, captivating stargazers and moon enthusiasts alike. On August 30, 2023, at 6:35 PM Whittier Time (0135 GMT on August 31), the eagerly anticipated "Super Blue Moon" will make its appearance, proudly claiming its title as the biggest and brightest full moon of the year.
But before you imagine a moon bathed in azure hues, let's debunk a common misconception: Blue Moons have nothing to do with color. Instead, they mark special lunar occurrences that arise from the intricate dance between our Earth and its celestial companion.
Two distinct types of Blue Moons exist, each with its own origin story. The first, known as a seasonal Blue Moon, stems from tradition. It refers to the third full moon in a season containing four full moons, as defined by NASA. The second definition, a monthly Blue Moon, was born from a misunderstanding of the first. This second full moon within a single calendar month has now earned its place alongside the seasonal Blue Moon, recognized as a valid definition.
As we explore the mysteries of the moon's phases, it becomes evident that the typical lunar cycle lasts approximately 29.5 days. This equates to 354 days for 12 lunar cycles. Remarkably, every 2.5 years, an additional 13th full moon emerges within a calendar year. This elusive 13th full moon defies the usual naming convention and claims the title of the Blue Moon.
Contrary to the idiom "once in a blue moon," these lunar wonders appear more frequently than the phrase implies, at least in astronomical terms. Blue Moons manifest once every two to three years, a testament to the celestial rhythm that surrounds us. This phenomenon is primarily governed by the fact that February, with either 28 or 29 days, rarely aligns with the full moon cycle.
Mark your calendars, as the next monthly Blue Moon is set to grace the night sky this week on August 30/31, 2023, according to Time and Date. As we look ahead, the next seasonal Blue Moon will illuminate the heavens on August 19/20, 2024.
However, it's essential to clarify that Blue Moons, in rare instances, can indeed exhibit a bluish hue. This exceptional occurrence arises from specific atmospheric conditions caused by volcanic eruptions. Notably, the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia released ash into the atmosphere, scattering red light and painting the moon a unique blue-green shade.
For those fascinated by the intricacies of this celestial marvel, meteorologist Joe Rao shares his insights. Depending on the definition one adheres to, the next Blue Moon is either scheduled for August 19, 2024, or, adhering to the "Two full moons in one month" rule, on August 30, 2023.
In a world where calendars and lunar cycles intertwine, the Super Blue Moon of August 2023 reminds us of the wondrous beauty that our universe has to offer. As the largest and brightest full moon of the year graces our night sky, let us marvel at the intricacies of nature and the celestial ballet that continues to captivate us all.
For more celestial insights and news, stay tuned to Whittier 360 News Network.