Tonight, August 31, 2012, the second full moon of the month, otherwise known as a blue moon, will grace the sky. It will be your last chance to see one of these until 2015, when the next blue moon occurs.
Don’t expect the night sky to be blue, however. The name is just a term and refers to the rarity of the event, not the actual color of the moon. Live Science explains, “Blue moons happen because our calendar months don’t precisely sync with the moon’s orbit. It takes the moon 29.5 days to wax and wane from full to new to full again. With the exception of February, months are longer than that, meaning that once in a while the timing works out so there are two full moons in one month.”
Dec. 31, 2009 was the last time we had a blue moon. That so-called “New Year’s Eve Blue Moon” was extra special for viewers in Europe, Asia, Africa and some parts of Alaska as it also coincided with a partial lunar eclipse.
If you want to watch an online live video tonight, head over to Slooh.com. The website has planned a special broadcast beginning at 3 p.m Pacific time today that will have live, zoomed-in, real-time feeds of the moon from an observatory on the Canary Islands.
Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, who died Saturday at the age of 82, will also be honored during the broadcast.
Make sure you make the most of tonight and head outdoors to be a part of this rare event. The moon will be at its fullest at 9:58 a.m. EDT tonight. The next one will occur on July 31, 2015.