Once in a Blue Moon coming on Friday

NIGHT SKY: There’s a blue moon rising this Friday.
NIGHT SKY: There’s a blue moon rising this Friday.

WE'VE all seen a shooting star or perhaps a solar eclipse, but what about a blue moon?

The rare astronomical occurrence will see the moon turn blue on Friday.

Writer and publicist of Australasian Science magazine, Dave Reneke, explains the Blue Moon is no myth bound by the famous saying with the rare moon occurring every two years on average.

"Blue Moons happen every two and a half years, on average and an interesting fact is February is the only calendar month which can never have a Blue Moon, with just 28 days in total. The Indonesian volcano erupting at the moment may add a slight colouring this time but, we'll have to wait and see," Mr Reneke said.

"The moon doesn't actually turn blue, it just looks that way, but it does have a very real cause."

He said the science behind the blue moon, explaining its blue colour is a result of excess dust from pollutants in the Earth's atmosphere such as bushfire smoke scatters a blue light.

But you won't need your telescope to see it, David recommends getting your family and friends together and taking in the spectacular sight with your own eyes.

"Telescopes won't help, in fact the worst time to view the Moon is when it's full. There's simply too much light for you to see any crater details, mountain ranges or valleys," Mr Reneke said.

There are a few examples of stunning blue moons sighted in America and Canada throughout history.

"In 1951 the Moon in North America turned blue when huge forest fires in Canada threw smoke particles up into the sky," Mr Reneke said.

"There were also reports of a blue-green coloured moon caused by Mount St Helens in 1980 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

The Blue Moon is the second full moon in the calendar month and its occurrence is of strong cultural significance in ancient cultures.

"Ancient cultures around the world considered the second full moon to be spiritually significant," Mr Reneke said.

"Even in music there's a connection. Songs that use 'Blue Moon' do so as a symbol of sadness and loneliness."

Topics:  astronomy blue moon coffs coast coffs harbour editors picks lunar

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