by Robert Wilkinson
We all know that we are about to have a Full Moon at 9 Pisces-Virgo in a few hours. As it’s the second Full Moon this month for most of the world, we call it a “Blue Moon.” But what does that mean?
I’ll be posting the first of the two Full Moon articles in a few hours. For now, though, I thought it would be helpful to explain what a “Blue Moon” actually is. We say this is a "Blue Moon" because it's the second Full Moon of August for the entire world except New Zealand and some Pacific islands. The common understanding is that because it’s the second Lunation of a month, that makes it a "Blue Moon."
However, after a little digging, I found a different definition of just what a "Blue Moon" actually is. It seems that the "second Full Moon in a month" is not all there is to it. Much of it stems from old Lunar Astrology, where each month's Full Moon had its own name and function in the year cycle. Here's a little from Wikipedia on the Blue Moon.
A blue moon is a full moon that is not timed to the regular monthly pattern. Most years have twelve full moons which occur approximately monthly, but in addition to those twelve full lunar cycles, each solar calendar year contains an excess of roughly eleven days compared to the lunar year. The extra days accumulate, so that every two or three years (on average about every 2.7154 years), there is an extra full moon. The extra moon is called a "blue moon." Different definitions place the "extra" moon at different times....
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Maine Farmers' Almanac listed blue moon dates for farmers. These correspond to the third full moon in a quarter of the year when there were four full moons (normally a quarter year has three full moons). Names are given to each moon in a season: For example, the first moon of summer is called the early summer moon, the second is called the midsummer moon, and the last is called the late summer moon. When a season has four moons the third is called the blue moon so that the last can continue to be called the late moon.
The division of the year into quarters starts with the nominal vernal equinox on or around March 21. This is close to the astronomical season but follows the Christian computus used for calculations of Easter, which places each equinox evenly between the summer and winter solstices to calculate seasons rather than using the actual equinox.
So really, this version says it’s the third Full Moon of a season, rather than the second Full Moon in a month. It seems to be a “place holder” or marker of an “extra Full Moon” occurring before the last Full Moon of a season as marked from the previous Winter Solstice.
That would imply that this is not a true “Blue Moon,” since it’s truly the last Full Moon before the next Autumnal Equinox that falls at 7:49 am PDT, 3:49 pm Greenwich on September 22, 2012. The next Full Moon (the Harvest Moon) falls a week later at 8:19 pm PDT, 11:19 pm EDT September 29, 4:19 am Greenwich at 8 Libra-Aries.
So according to the second way of calculating the Blue Moon, we see that there were 3 Full Moons in each season since the 2011 Winter Solstice. Looking forward, the only season that will have 4 Full Moons is Summer 2013, with one in early Cancer-Capricorn, one in the last degree of Cancer-Capricorn, one in late Leo-Aquarius, and one in late Virgo-Pisces. That makes the Full Moon of August 2013 a “Blue Moon.”
On the other hand, I can see a case being made for the Blue Moon being the second Full Moon in the same signs as the previous Full Moon. That would make the second Cancer-Capricorn Full Moon of 2013 the Blue Moon. In case you care...
Anyway, just a brief look at Blue Moons and what they are. I’ll be back soon with Part 1 of this month’s Blue Full Moon series of articles. For now, since this one falls at 9 Virgo-Pisces, get ready to drop whatever you don’t need to spur yourself forward toward speedy attainment of whatever goal is in front of you. Here you express an aspect of your individual selfhood that is artistic in nature, and can find inspiration in a newer, more loving way to expect the best while sharing what you need to.
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson