Blue Moon?

Jan 12th, 2018 | By | Category: Articles

Image: Seasonal Blue Moon of November 2010 by Astroval1, via Wikimedia Commons.

Many say that January’s second full moon, on the 31st, will be a blue moon. This uses the definition that a blue moon is the second full moon within a single calendar month. However, the original definition of a blue moon was different, and went by the seasons, rather than the months. Where there were four full moons within one season, the third of those full moons was known as the blue moon. This page has a great explanation why, and clearly explains the difference between the two types of blue moon.

Today, you can use either meaning correctly, and naming the second full moon in January the blue moon means the first full moon can remain the Wolf Moon, as it is so often named.

But what happens in February? February’s full moon is often named the Snow Moon, yet in 2018 there will be no full moon in February at all. Does that mean we just don’t have a Snow Moon this year? Or, would it be more correct to name the ‘blue moon’ as the Snow Moon and carry on from there? After all, the months are something we as humans made up to fit around the cycles of the moon, not the other way around. This is why I prefer the ‘seasonal’ blue moon definition, as it only occurs when there are 13 moons in a year (which there are this year; all will become clear shortly), so the blue moon is the odd one out; the moon that doesn’t fit in with any list of twelve moon names. Here are some names for each of the months’ full moons, starting with my favourite in each case!

January: Wolf Moon, Old Moon, Ice Moon, Moon after Yule.

February: Storm Moon, Snow Moon, Hunger Moon.

March: Crow Moon, Worm Moon, Crust Moon, Sap Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon.

April: Hare Moon, Pink Moon, Egg Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon, Paschal Moon.

May: Flower Moon, Milk Moon, Corn Planting Moon.

June: Mead Moon, Strawberry Moon, Hot Moon, Rose Moon.

July: Thunder Moon, Hay Moon, Wort Moon, Buck Moon.

August: Sturgeon Moon, Grain Moon, Fruit Moon, Barley Moon (you can see the theme here!).

September: Harvest Moon (although I always understand this to be the nearest full moon to the Autumnal Equinox, so this can mess the lunar calendar up too, if that full moon happens to be at the start of October!); Corn Moon, another Barley Moon.

October: Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon, Sanguine Moon, Drying Grass Moon.

November: Oak Moon, Beaver Moon, Mourning Moon, Frost Moon.

December: Cold Moon, Moon Before Yule.

So using the seasonal definition, the full moon at the end of January this year would actually be the Storm or Snow Moon, but the third full moon in Winter, the full moon that falls on the 2nd March, would actually be a blue moon, and the the second full moon in March (which would be called a blue moon by the modern definition) would actually be the Crow Moon, and then the rest of the year would follow the usual pattern.

This is following that the season of winter started in December, and ended in March. Of course, if your definitions of the seasons are different to this, that throws it all out again…

Confused yet? Don’t be! Ultimately, the months of 2018 are 28, 30 and 31 days long; fixed and unchangeable. The moon doesn’t follow this timetable, so however we want to match the year up to her standards is up to us.

Personally, I won’t be calling January’s second full moon a blue moon this year, nor will I be concerned that February doesn’t have one, as my timetable is ruled by Her; beautiful Selene, the moon herself; not by what is trapped in between the pages of a calendar.

P.S As well as being a ‘supermoon’, in some parts of the world the full moon of January 31st 2018 will be a lunar eclipse. Click here to see if you will be able to view the eclipse.

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2 Comments to “Blue Moon?”

  1. Rachel Patterson says:

    Excellent article!

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