We’ve all heard the saying, “once in a blue moon” in talking about something that doesn’t happen very often. The old and often used figure of speech refers to the rarity in which a blue moon occurs. But for us, blue moons take place more frequently than they do for most people. In fact, they occur every time we crave a certain Belgian style beer created by the Blue Moon Brewing Company. Today, however, we have a little something extra to celebrate.
That’s right– today, July 31st, we will experience an astronomical Blue Moon. Believe it or not, this is the kind that came first. Of course, this occurrence deems it simply unethical to go the night without sipping on a Blue Moon beer. While we could talk about how much we love Blue Moon beer for days, it’s time to talk some science. We’ve been acting all these years like we are all knowing about Blue Moon (the beer) , but what about the term from which its name is derived?
Actually, the definition of an astronomical blue moon can be a little confusing on its own as it has three different interpretations. The blue moon we will experience tonight is a result of a second full moon taking place in the same calendar month. Full moons occur every 29 days and therefore typically do not happen twice in one given month. But, every so often– or shall we say, “every once in a blue moon”– they do. There was a full moon on July 2nd and due to the fact that July is (thankfully) a long 31 days, we get to have a second one just before the turn of August.
The second and more scientific way of describing a blue moon is as the 3rd full moon in an astronomical season. An astronomical season– correlating with winter, spring, summer, and fall– typically cycles through 3 full moons. But, when a blue moon occurs, 4 full moons occur in a certain astronomical season. Pretty neat, huh? Well, not as neat as the third definition and most rare type of occurrence. This is when the moon actually appears blue in color– see Blue Moon bottle or can– because of dust or smoke particles that are a result of a dust storm or volcano. For example, a blue moon occurred when Mt Pinatubo erupted in 1991.
When Keith Villa started the Blue Moon Brewing Company in 1995, its hard to know exactly what he was thinking. It was probably something like– “it’s once in a blue moon a man can create a beer this fantastic.” Just our thought. So, if you’re looking for one of those life moments when you know you are in the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time, here it is on a platter. Drink a Blue Moon on a night of a blue moon.