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What is a blue Moon illustration: on a year-long timeline, the occurrence of full moons is plotted for each month. A blue moon is when a full moon occurs twice in the same month - once at the beginning and again at the end of the month.

What is a blue moon?

What is a blue moon? A blue moon is a full moon that hits twice in a calendar month.

Given the cycle from full moon to full moon is about 29.5 days and months are generally 30 or 31 days a full moon appearing twice in a month doesn’t happen very often. And February never has a blue moon.

I like this definition, but it is apparently a modification of the original definition which is a little more complicated. The original blue moon definition is explained like this. Given the 29.5 day cycle, most seasons of 3 months have 3 full moons. But every now and then, a season would come by, like Sep, Oct, Nov in the sketch, where there would be 4 full moons. The 3rd of these was known as a blue moon, or a seasonal blue moon. See why I like the modern definition?

Here’s a good article that explains the subtleties and history of blue moons.

Check out more moon or astronomy explanations

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