Tech e’ Science

Once In A Blue Moon – Explained Astronomically

by Gaurav SunejaJuly 31, 2015

“Once in a blue moon”  is an idiom which is used to define an event which occurs rarely, once in a very long time. But according to astronomy, there are two definitions of full Moon. Firstly, it may be the third full  in an astronomical season with 4 full Moons. Secondly, it may be also be defined as the second full Moon in a month with two full Moons.  The idiom which is used today can be attributed to a Sky and Telescope writer who in 1946 tried to clear up the confusion of the definition published by the Marine Farmers Almanac.

Mostly in a year it is only 12 times that we experience 12 full moons,  but sometimes there are exceptions when the occurrence of full moon increases to 13, this extra lunar display gets the name of Blue Moon. The first full moon of this month occurred on July 2 and the second time when it will occur on 31 July. This event will repeat itself again in the year 2018 in January.


When the moon appears blue to us it does not mean that the color of the  moon becomes blue, it appears blue due to the smoke or dust particles in the atmosphere, such as during a cataclysmic volcanic eruption. Some of the eruptions that are known to have caused blue moons like: – Mt. Krakatoa, Indonesia (1883), El Chinchon, Mexico (1983), Mt. St. Helens (1980) and Mt. Pinatubo (1991). Moreover, the forest fires can also cause the moon to appear blue. According to NASA forest fires can cause the same phenomenon and an example of this type of fire is of September 1953 in Albert, Canada. There are clouds of smoke of micron sized oil droplets produced lavender suns and blue Moons all the way from North America to England.

Once In A Blue Moon - Explained Astronomically

Once In A Blue Moon – Explained Astronomically

Apart from this name “Blue Moon” there are different names which are given to various full moons that occur in an year. The names of various full moons are as follows:-

  • January: – The Wolf Moon
  • February: – The Snow Moon
  • March: – The Worm Moon
  • April: -The Pink Moon
  • May: – The Flower Moon
  • June: – The Strawberry Moon
  • July: – The Buck Moon
  • August: – The Sturgeon Moon
  • September: – The Harvest Moon
  • October: – The Hunter’s Moon
  • November: – The Beaver Moon
  • December: – The Cold Moon

There are many phenomena that occur in our nature. About some of them we know the reason and about those whose reasons are not known are considered to be miraculous. It is very important that we continue our research and find out reasons behind them and enjoy all such miraculous events.

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About The Author
Gaurav Suneja
Gaurav Suneja
I am 21 years of age and I am pursuing B.Tech. from Delhi Technological University in Mechanical and Automotive Engineering. I like to watch news and other infotainment channels. My favorite sport is cricket. I also like to write articles in order to express my views on any current event.

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