Who Knew…Last Night’s Full Moon Was Blue?

By Terry Eliasen, Executive Weather Producer, WBZ
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File image (credit: Megan O'Leary)

File image (credit: Megan O’Leary)

We all know the saying “Once in a Blue Moon”…well typically when we refer to a blue moon it implies the second full moon in the same month.  BUT…the full moon last night could also be considered blue, yet it was the one and only full moon this November, here’s why…

As we all know the moon is typically full 12 times each year, 3 times each season.  There are some years when we get 13 full moons though, actually in ancient times this is how the number 13 came to be an unlucky number.  Monks (who went by the moon cycles to determine the calendar)  had to change their calendars to 13 months thereby creating a whole lot of confusion!  Anyhow, with 13 full moons in a year that meant that one season would have to have 4 full moons rather than 3.  This article, written by Joe Rao of space.com explains that the term blue moon originally was used to describe the third moon in a season which had 4.  Such as last night’s…it was the third full moon of this fall season, the 4th coming just hours before the official start of winter on December 21st.  However over the years the definition of the term “blue moon” got misconstrued and changed to what we currently understand and know it to be, the second full moon in a given month.  Almost like a game of telephone you play with your kids…you whisper a phrase in someone’s ear, they pass it on and so forth and by the time it gets to the last person, the entire phrase has changed.  Fascinating stuff if you ask me! 

Blue moon or not, last night’s full moon was certainly a beauty, also know as the full “beaver” moon, but that is a discussion for another time…

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