July’s Blue Moon

Happy Blue Moon of July!

Welcome to Issue 7 of Volume VII of Earth, Moon and Stars!


      • What’s Cookin’
      • Seasonal Calendar ~ Moon dates and times
      • Moon Names ~ Blue Moon
      • Moon Celebrations ~ Adhi Esala Poya Day (Sri Lanka)
      • The Moon in Song ~
        “Blue Moon” (with an amazing concert reprise performance by the Marcels)
        “Blue Moon of Kentucky” by Bill Monroe
      • Astrology ~ Full Moon in Aquarius: Breakthrough | Surrender


  The moon will become exact full July 31 (Friday) at 10:42 UT (Universal Time); correspondingly earlier in time zones west of the Prime Meridian, later in time zones to the east. (See this past December’s Seasonal Calendar for clarification about Universal Time.)

   Because fullness this time will occur a tad before noon at the Prime Meridian, locations west of England will see closest to actual fullness on Thursday night, while England and east to the Date Line will see slightly more fullness on Friday night. Check Seasonal Calendar below for exact times in some representative time zones. 

   As noted last time, this will be the second full moon this month. We go into some detail about why this event is now popularly called a “blue moon,” even though it wasn’t always this way.

   We briefly visit Sri Lanka where, in the Buddhist tradition, each full moon is a holiday.

  And featured this time are not one, but two popular blue moon songs. Are we lucky or what?

  And finally, our favorite astrologers, Molly and Emily, tell us what to look for and dive deep into at this full moon.

Blue Moon

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July’s 2nd full moon:  Friday July 31 10:42 UT; 1:42 pm IDT; 6:42 pm AWST/PHT
.  (a “Blue Moon”)        Friday July 31 6:42 am EDT; 3:42 am PDT; 12:42 am HAST
August’s new moon:    Friday August 14 14:54 UT; 5:54 pm IDT; 10:54 pm AWST/PHT
.                                        Friday August 14 10:54 am EDT; 7:54 am PDT; 4:54 am HAST
August’s full moon:      Saturday August 29 18:36 UT; 8:36 am HAST; 11:36 am PDT
.                                        Saturday August 29 2:36 pm EDT; 9:36 pm IDT
.                                        Sunday August 30 2:36 am AWST/PHT
Sept’s new moon:         Sunday September 13 06:42 UT; 2:42 am EDT; 9:42 am IDT
.                                        Sunday September 13 2:42 pm AWST/PHT
.                                        Saturday September 12 8:42 pm HAST; 11:42 pm PDT
[ref: Moon Phases]

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July’s Blue Moon

   Although we got a bit into blue moons in our Aug 2013 issue, I’ve provided more detail here, aiming for digestible edification.

First, some bulletized facts as an introduction, with expansions following after:

  • The whole idea of naming full moons – which includes Blue Moon – is pure folklore.
  • “As likely as a blue moon” used to mean “impossible”.
  • The term “blue” moon apparently derived from “belewe”, meaning betrayer.
  • Blue moons do not (usually) appear blue in color. If they do, it’s pure coincidence.
  • A year can have either 12 or 13 full moons.
  • When there are 13, the extra moon is popularly called “blue”.
  • Originally, this extra moon was chosen to be the third full moon in the season (or quarter) that had four (rather than the usual three). With this definition, a year can have either zero or one blue moon.
  • Since 1946 the popular definition for blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month. With this definition, it is possible to have two blue moons in the same year.

“Blue Moon” Means “Impossible”
    The first English use of the term “blue moon” to indicate rarity was, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, from a proverb recorded in 1528:

If they say the moon is blue,
We must believe that it is true.

Blue Moon over ocean

Blue Moon over ocean

Origins of the term Blue Moon

   Before they developed tables to fix the day for Easter (and thus Lent), the Catholic Church based this determination on the actual first full moon of Spring. Since the calendar used at the time was a luni-solar calendar, an extra (intercalary) month had to be inserted every few years to keep the calendar aligned with the seasons. In such a scenario, the first full moon of Spring could not be the Easter (Paschal) moon, and thus was popularly called belewe for “betrayer” or “traitorous” moon.

Third of Four Definition

   In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Maine Farmers’ Almanac listed names and dates for each full moon, calling the third full moon “blue” if that quarter had four full moons. This was done so that the last full moon in the quarter could continue to be called by its traditional name for that season. With this definition, any year will have either zero or one blue moon.

Second in a Month Definition

   Then, in his March, 1946, Sky and Telescope article “Once in a Blue Moon”, James Hugh Pruett misinterpreted the 1937 Maine Farmers’ Almanac, and thus started the idea of calling the second full moon in a month a “Blue Moon.” This definition caught on and spread widely, possibly because it was easier to grasp and remember.  With this (newer) definition, it is possible to have two blue moons in the same calendar year. This will occur next in 2018, when January and March will each have two full moons, leaving poor February with none. For more details, see the Time and Date article “What is a Blue Moon?“. And for an in-depth treatment of the evolution of this tradition, see the Sky and Telescope page “What Is A Blue Moon?“.

Dolphin full moon

Dolphin full moon

   While the above definitions are interesting, it’s important to note (contrary to many articles on the subject) that only one describes a truly astronomical event – something that one or many bodies do in space. The third of four full moons in a season is an astronomical event, but the second-in-a-month full moon is not.

  The “third-of-four” definition is truly astronomical only if the seasons themselves are defined astronomically. It turns out the seasons used by the Maine Farmers’ Almanac – which advanced the third-of-four definition – were those of the mean tropical year; they were equal in length and thus not truly astronomical. (True astronomical seasons begin and end with a solstice or an equinox; they vary in length because Earth’s speed in its orbit around the Sun is not uniform.) By contrast, the second-in-a-month definition is purely social, based on calendars invented by humans, and thus is not really an astronomical event. (refs: Wikipedia, InfoPlease, TimeandDate)

The Color Bluish (from the Wikipedia article Blue Moon)

   The most literal meaning of “blue moon” is when the moon (not necessarily full ) appears to a casual observer to be unusually bluish – a rare event. This effect can be caused by smoke or dust particles in the atmosphere, as happened after forest fires in Sweden and Canada in 1950 and 1951, and after the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, which caused the moon to appear blue for nearly two years. The key to a blue moon is having lots of particles slightly wider than the wavelength of red light (0.7 micrometer)—and no other sizes present. It is rare, but volcanoes sometimes produce such clouds, as do forest fires.

Blue Moons in Our Future

   Between now and 2024, there will be just four more blue moons, using the third-of-four definition:
2016 May 21
2019 May 18
2021 August 22
2024 August 19

Using the second-in-a-month definition, there will be just four blue moons through 2023:
2018 January 31 (only in time zones west of UTC+11)
2018 March 31 (only in time zones west of UTC+12)
2020 October 31 (only in time zones west of UTC+10)
2023 August 31

Please see my March 2014 post for a short discussion of black moons.

Brooklyn Blue Moon (2010-11-21)

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Adhi Esala Poya (Full Moon) Day ~ Sri Lanka

  From time to time I like to showcase moon-related celebrations from around the world, in line with my theme that the Moon belongs to everyone and unites us all. This time it’s off to Sri Lanka (renamed from “Ceylon” in 1972).

Sri Lanka location

Sri Lanka location

  Poya is the name in the Sinhala language given to the Buddhist holiday of Uposatha in Sri Lanka, where it is observed on each full moon and is a civil and bank holiday.

   Uposatha is important to Buddhists all around the world, who have adopted the lunar calendar for their religious observances. The full moon day is treated as the most auspicious of the four lunar phases. (When there are two Poya days in a month, the second one is preceded by Adhi, meaning “extra”.)

Adhi Esala Poya Day

Adhi Esala Poya Day

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   The first song I thought of for this issue was (as I suspect most of you did) that old standard “Blue Moon” written by Rodgers and Hart in 1934 (originally for an MGM movie), but not becoming a hit until 1949 when recorded by both Billy Eckstine and Mel Tormé. Elvis Presley recorded it in 1956 on his debut album. And then, of course, the Marcels’ doo-wop version, which became an international chart-topper in 1961.

Marcels "Blue Moon"

Marcels “Blue Moon”

  Whether you are young-er or old-er, you simply have to watch and listen to the Marcels performing this song live – with gray hair decades after their “prime”. Impressive! (Click the album cover above to watch and listen!)  (ref Wikipedia)  

Blue Moon (1935)
music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart

(here is the original, sung by Mel Tormé – 1949)
(here is the original, sung by Billy Eckstine – 1949)
(here is the original studio recording by the Marcels – 1961)
(and an OMG! live concert reprise by the Marcels – 199?)

Blue Moon Sheet Music cover

Blue moon, you saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
Blue moon, you knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for.
And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper “Please adore me”
And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold!
Blue moon!
Now I’m no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

   And as if that’s not enough, I just discovered a bluegrass paean to a blue moon, “Blue Moon of Kentucky”, written and recorded in 1946 by Bill Monroe. (Click the photo to see/hear a 1996 live performance by Bill and his Blue Grass Boys!)

Bill Monroe and band

Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys

Blue Moon of Kentucky (studio recording)
Blue Moon of Kentucky (1996 live performance video)

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   Unlike the Earth – which takes 365+ days to make a complete circuit through the Zodiac – the Moon takes just a month to make her rounds. This means she spends on average only two and a half days in each zodiac sign. The Moon is currently in Capricorn; she will move into Aquarius on Thursday and remain there while she is full. She will move into Pisces on Saturday.

Molly Hall ~ Molly Hall

Aquarius Full Moon –  Reviving Air

   Molly Hall is chief astrologer at about.com. At this full moon, Molly has a report that is both encouraging and challenging at the same time in her article: Full Moon in Aquarius~Reviving Air on her about.com astrology site. Here is a brief distillation from her extensive column for this full moon:

   As this full moon is in the sign of Aquarius, Molly leads off with:

  The Aquarius jolt means waking up to amazing truths and possibilities. It’s one of those rare peaks where you can see far, and imagine something way different. Once you imagine it — spot it there on the far horizon — you can set your sights on that lofty vision.

   And as the sun is currently in the sign of Leo, Molly goes on to say:

  The polar dance is with sunny Leo, and that revives courage, and the will to be fully who you are. It’s time for a breakthrough into the strange, but exhilarating unknown.

   She then goes on to liken Aquarius to a cooling summer breeze, a surprise breakthrough in the midst of struggle that offers you a chance to break free of habitual rhythms and deeply embedded conditioning.

   This Full Moon illuminates:

  • supportive networks
  • flashes of genius
  • quantum leaps in spiritual growth
    (. . . and a slew more)

It’s a Good Time to Focus on:

  • gathering with kindred spirits
  • cultivating a cutting edge idea
  • being true to yourself
    (. . . and many more).

   The above is just a sampling. As per usual, I can’t do her offering justice without including it in its entirety, so if any of the above calls to you, I recommend that you click over to her page Full Moon in Aquarius~Reviving Air for the full hit. You can also look up what this full moon portends for your specific birth sign at her posting Aquarius Full Moon in Houses ~ Out of the Blue.

   In addition to her insights around this full moon, Molly offers the following helpful articles:

 Also visit Molly’s front page for lots more interesting astrology.

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Emily Trinkaus ~ Emily Trinkaus

Aquarius Full Moon ~ Surrender and Spaciousness

   Head priestess at Virgo Magic, Emily is based in Portland, OR, and works with astrology as a tool for healing, empowerment, personal growth and collective evolution. In addition, she and energy healer Katie Todd run the Full Moon Priestess website where they conduct monthly Full Moon Galactivation teleclasses for women.

Collage by Emily

   As usual, I am taken by her experiential insights that she combines with her impressive technical acumen. This time Emily begins with: This full moon in Aquarius invites you to take a deep breath, step back from the drama, and see a more objective, higher perspective on where you’re at and where you’re headed, […as it brings us…] the gifts of objectivity, neutrality and spaciousness.

   Then, after providing us the astrological framework for this full moon, Emily launches into her reflections on it. Examples: “[Being revealed are] subconscious fears holding you back and sabotaging your future. What kind of structure, container, system, strategy do you need? What’s your plan for making it REAL?.

   Emily suggests, Rather than over-asserting your will or “pushing” for answers, [we are being called to] shed whatever is inauthentic, out of alignment with who you are now, and draining your juju and then allowing what’s true and authentic to rise from the ashes. One of the big […] lessons is SURRENDER – a skill that is hugely underrated and underutilized in the modern West.

Some themes arising now are:

  • facing and working through the fear of being BIG and shining your light in the world
  • clarifying and implementing the support system you need to manifest your creative vision
  • getting more serious, disciplined and focused about bringing your vision into reality
  • surrendering the need for approval and outside validation for expressing your true self

   Personally, I feel Emily is speaking directly to me this time. (After all, my birth sign is Aquarius.) To see/feel if she’s speaking to you, check out her column Surrender and Spaciousness for the full story.

Aquarius full moon (tarot.com)

My Personal Take on Astrology

  Some folks have wondered why I have an astrology section in a blog that purports to be “science” oriented. I suppose I could cite ancient cultures in which astronomy and astrology were the domain of the same person. And that a broader way of understanding the aim of science is to expand knowledge (the word science being derived from the Latin word  scīre “to know”). My own sense is that while we humans live in a material world that runs by certain rules of physics, we each experience our lives in this world subjectively. It’s what makes us similar and at the same time unique.
   How much do celestial bodies influence our lives? Certainly the Sun and the Moon have noticeable gravitational effects on water and even rocks. Electromagnetic and particle radiation from the Sun has both obvious and subtle effects on just about everything on this planet. Even moonlight affects plants and animals.  I do not claim to know if or how much these and other celestial bodies affect us directly, but I like the wisdom, warmth and humanness that Molly and Emily express in their writing, and believe that including them not only expands my potential audience, but also exposes folks to ways of thinking about their own lives that they might not have otherwise considered. Let me know your take on this. I won’t make your comment public if you ask me not to.

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   If you especially like (or dislike) something you see here, or would like to see something in particular covered in a future issue, or you have something interesting about the Earth, Moon, or Stars you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m always interested in how folks who stop by here are moved/influenced/affected by what they encounter here. 

  Until the full moon in August, here’s wishing all of us breakthrough and surrender!

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A few detail-oriented folks have inquired about my use (or mis-use) of Initial Caps in words like earth, moon, and sun. In the long run, it doesn’t affect understanding; Whether I write ”the President” or “the president”, you still know who I’m referring to. I write “the Northern Hemisphere”, just as you would (correctly) write “the West Coast”; it’s a proper name, and in English we capitalize proper names.

When it comes to suns and moons it can get confusing. There are billions of suns out there; we have given names to more than 40 million of them, ranging from names given in other languages (e.g., Aldebaran), to less fanciful but more utilitarian names, such as HD 140913. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decreed that our sun is the only one without such a proper name, although historically and in poesy it’s been called by quite a few.

Similarly for our moon. We’ve christened all of the other 182 moons in our solar system with names – ours is the only one we call the Moon.

Since we capitalize the names of all the other heavenly bodies (even asteroids and comets, for pity’s sake), I feel we ought to show at least as much respect for the ones most important to us. The IAU agrees.

So does Wikipedia. Their Manual of Style says: “The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (our Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System): The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; The Moon orbits the Earth. They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context (The sky was clear and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter).”

Sometimes it’s a fine line. If I write “by the light of the silvery moon”, I won’t capitalize it, because I’m referring to an image of the celestial body, not the body itself. By contrast, if I write, “the light from the Sun reflects off the surface of the Moon,” I capitalize both, because I’m referring directly to the celestial bodies.

If you inspect the archives of this blog, you will likely see many instances where I departed from this rule. We’ll call these oversights, and eventually I will correct them. Meanwhile, it’s an interesting challenge just to follow it in new writings. Are we having fun, yet?

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The Earth, Moon and Stars blog is published once each Full Moon with (hopefully interesting) facts and lore about our moon and other sky phenomena. My wish is that you will have fun learning a bit more about our one and only natural satellite and how all of us — people, animals, plants, water, even rocks — are affected and connected by her.

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Unless otherwise noted, this blog claims no credit for any images appearing on it. Copyrighted images remain the property of their respective owners; attribution and/or links are provided when known. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear here, please leave a comment with your email address and a link to the image in question and it will be promptly removed. Your comment will not be made public.


About aquarianman

Aquarian interested in anything to do with the Earth, our Moon, and anything flying around out there in space.
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