Monday, 02 August 2004
Blue Moon Did You Really Shine?
CREDIT: © Ginger Mayfield/Ginger Mayfield's Homepage
WHERE: Colorado, but a worldwide phenomenon. WHAT: the Blue Moon.
Thumbnails  pop-up larger source site images. NB: for copyright reasons, larger images appear at their original size from the source web site.
It seems likely that we know more about the Moon orbiting our planet than at any other time in human history. That holds good for the people who study the Moon, but it seems that the PLUs [People Like Us] have become less aware of lunar cycles as we became more independent of their influence, at least in directly experienced ways.
At the simplest level, if the light of the full Moon is not needed to travel at night, then why bother to track the occasions when the light will be available? The development of the concept of a 'blue' Moon provides an interesting parallel with the 'dumbing down' of scientific knowledge, and how this can lead to the inaccurate transmission of concepts, and even the hijacking of the data on which they are predicated.
The SkyAndTelescope.com web site has two articles:  'Once in a Blue Moon' by Philip Hiscock gets the ball rolling; and  'What's a Blue Moon?' by Donald W. Olson, Richard Tresch Fienberg, and Roger W. Sinnott, rounds out the story. Those needing an executive summary [sigh] may prefer this InfoPlease.com page. A more data centric summary is available from the InconstantMoon.com web site. Any of those links will make you an instant expert in the watering hole of your choice.
So was the Moon that rose clear and bright above the Hurricane Fault, as we lay in the editorial bed last Saturday night, a Blue Moon? Olson, Fienberg, and Sinnott suggest, "Rather than argue over whether to celebrate the dawn of the new millennium on January 1st in 2000 or 2001, those with the sunniest outlooks will celebrate twice. Why not treat Blue Moons the same way, marking both the second full Moon in a calendar month and the third full Moon in a season with four?" We will drink to that! The next time someone at an embassy party mentions the Blue Moon, we might even raise a quizzical eyebrow to enquire, "Type One or Type Two, old chap?"
For Blue Moon pictures we went to Ginger Mayfield's pages on DCA [Digital Camera Astrophotography] web site. To our delight, Ginger has a great  pictorial Blue Moon of 31 January 1999 and a three  image record from 31 July 2004. Visitors with an astronomical interest will no doubt need little encouragement to spend time exploring all the various astronomy pages.
The PLUs will find plenty of wider interest, however, and we suggest the General and Scenic sections, where you may even find the Blue Moon of the 10 April 2003, which really looks blue, if you search diligently. Two images that caught our eye as tempting samples were the Milky Way, and a yard bear. All we ever had at the bottom of our garden were fairies - but more of that tomorrow.
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)