Well skywatchers, tonight (Friday the 31st of August 2012) is that very rare occasion marking the second full moon of August (the previous one occurred on August the 2nd, previous shown on MilnersBlog). It’s so rare, you won’t be able to see two full moons in a calendar month again until July 2015, which is the reason why the phrase ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ appears.
Alas, if you’re hoping to see a “blue moon” you won’t…it isn’t really blue, as my colourised image suggests. The only way a moon can appear somewhat blue is if there’s been a major volcanic eruption that throws up tons of particles in the air, but otherwise the phrase “blue moon” is quite a creature of folklore, with so many claiming its origins, but research has found as the earliest recorded English true usage of the term “blue moon” was in a 1524 pamphlet violently attacking the English clergy, entitled “Rede Me and Be Not Wrothe” (“Read me and be not angry”; or possibly “Counsel Me and Be Not Angry”: “If they say the moon is belewe / We must believe that it is true” [If they say the moon is blue, we must believe that it is true].
Tonight’s Blue Moon will be unique for another truly beautiful reason: It will shine over the private memorial service for astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. He died last Saturday, August 25, at age 82. His family “has suggested paying tribute to him by looking at the moon and giving the astronaut a wink.” I already did my own tribute to his families ‘Wink at the Moon‘ for Neil idea in my last post on MilnersBlog.