December 31, 2009

Educational Thursday

Last night, I was watching the weather portion of the local news.  The substitute weather guy, having nothing else to report but the cold and snow flurries that plague this section of the midwest during this time of year, made a big deal of how today, December 31, was a blue moon.  One of the anchor persons asked him why it was called a blue moon, and of course, this idiot hadn't done his homework, so he harumphed helplessly for a few seconds before he said "I don't know", ending his segment with awkward dead air, as the anchor person thought that he might have a clue as to what a blue moon was since he had brought it up.  So they both sat there and stared at each other until the floor director threw something at them.

Besides the entertainment value, this started me thinking that I hadn't written any posts in a very long time that could be considered even semi-educational, so I did some research on the blue moon and wanted to present it to you today, in terms even the idiot substitute weather guy could understand.  Plus, you will receive an added value educational tidbit that you can whip out at your New Year's Eve party tonight to delight and amaze your friends and acquaintances.

In a nutshell, the solar and lunar calendars don't line up, because whatever geniuses who thought up calendars back in the 11th or 12th centuries couldn't get their shit together and make them the same.  As a result, one calendar or the other is lagging behind and although the moon is doing it's thing like it always has been, it seems like there's an extra full moon in any particular month every couple of years.  And 2009 is one of those years that it seems like we have 13 full moons instead of 12. The 13th moon is called a blue moon, no matter what month it occurs in.  And this year, it just happened to be in December.

Okay, if you're with me so far, then you're probably saying, "Alright smart ass, that's all well and good, but why is it called a blue moon?"  Well, if you'll give me a fucking second, I'll explain that too.  Astronomers during the same backward ass centuries were always caught with their pants down when the extra full moon showed up because they couldn't remember that it had happened before because it had been a couple of years since the last one and they must have had bad memories due to their not having enough zinc in their diet or some shit like that.  So, pissed off, they started calling it the "betrayal moon".  And through changes in language over the millenniums, "betrayal" turned into "blue".  This would be the same as that party game, where you get twenty or so people together, and one person whispers a phrase like "I feel a bout of explosive diarrhea coming on" into the next persons ear, and by the time it gets to the last person, it's turned into "You suck donkey balls".

The second, more popular explanation, is that after the volcano Krakatoa blew up in 1883, the earth was partially shrouded in dust particles for a couple of years that was thick enough to make it appear that the full moon was a blue color.  Fortunately, all of the dinosaurs had been killed off in the first big dust shroud several million years prior to that, so the worst that happened was people coughed a lot for a while.

Bonus Educational Item:

Did you know that every full moon has a nickname?  Not cool nicknames like "Gus" or "Boomer", but nicknames all the same.  Here they are by month:

January - Old Moon
February - Wolf Moon
March - Lenten Moon
April - Egg Moon
May - Milk Moon
June - Flower Moon
July - Hay Moon
August - Grain Moon
September - Corn Moon
October - Harvest Moon
November - Hunter's Moon
December - Oak Moon

Thus endeth the lesson.  I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year's Eve.  Jan and I will be celebrating here at home by watching "New Year's Rockin' Eve" and  being alternately horrified and fascinated by the still strokey Dick Clark.  Have fun and avoid random gunfire.

1 comment:

  1. The Old English word for betrayal was belewe, so it was more predictable that it would become blue.