DELMARVA ALMANAC

The Next Blue Moon

by Dana Kester-McCabe

There are a number of reasons to look to Delmarva's night sky this month.

The Delta Aquariids and the Alpha Capricornids Meteor Showers can be seen the second half of the month and will peak on the 27th through the 29th. The best time to see them will probably be a few days before that because the waxing moon will be almost full then making the shooting stars harder to see.

We actually already had our first full moon for the month on July 2nd. We will have another full moon at the end of the month. This is what most of us call a "Blue Moon": when there are two full moons with in a calendar month or when there are four full moons with one season instead of three.

Farmers, fishermen, and here on Delmarva - crabbers, have relied on the phases of the moon to govern their work since ancient times so the term's origins may have some now lost reference to that. Some folklorists think the name began when people called an extra lunar cycle a betrayer moon from the Old English word "belewe", meaning, "to betray". Some written references suggest that the name "betrayal moon" refers to the suspicion that priests betrayed the congregation when they used a blue moon in the spring as an excuse to extend the fasting of Lent.

I certainly don't have any proof but it seems more likely to me that the unwritten history of the English term Blue moon - is that a full moon would reveal or betray illicit late night activity like romantic trysts, thievery, or troop maneuvers during war time. Having two full moons in one month would make that behavior more dangerous - thus the name the betrayer or "belewe" moon.

The moon does not necessarily appear to change in color during a blue moon, though the moon has been known on rare occasions to look blue such as in 1883 when the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa erupted. Certain storms and forest fires have also had this effect.

The last time we had a blue moon, in the traditional sense, was in 2012 when we had one in both August and September. The next time we will have one will be in January of 2018. This year on July 31st the Blue moon will rise in the east south east at 8:15pm which will be just about the same time as sunset. Weather permitting it should be a great night to head to the Atlantic coast and watch the glories of a blue moon rising over the ocean.

References:


What Is A Blue Moon?
Farmer's Almanac

Folklore of the "Blue Moon"
Philip Hiscock - MUN Folklore & Language Archive

Blue Moon - Wikipedia

Gardening By The Moon

Blue Moon (1935 Recording)
Written by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart, Performed by Connie Boswell & Victor Young Orchestra