The Blue Moon event taking place in August 2012 is a rare treat for sky gazers, who have already been treated to one full moon this month. However, another treat is in store as the second full moon this month takes place on Friday, August 31.
- (Photo: Reuters/NASA/Handout)
A blue moon, being the second of two full moons within any given month, is a rare occurrence; which has sprouted the phrase "once in a blue moon" used to describe an event that rarely takes place.
The first full moon occurred on Aug. 1, but this month's "blue moon" will take place on Friday. It will be the last blue moon for three years.
The blue moon will reach its full phase at 9:58 a.m. ET Friday.
Blue moons exist due to our calendar months being imperfectly synched to the lunar months. It takes 29.5 days for the moon to orbit Earth, during which sky watchers observe all of its phases.
All calendar months, aside from February, have 30 or 31 days, resulting in the occasional two full moons within a single month.
While blue moons are rare, they can be predicted to take place every three years or so, with the next one scheduled to take place in July 2015.
The name of the event comes from the colors the moon takes on from time to time due to different conditions. After volcanic activity or forest fires, the moon can appear to take on a bluish or sometimes lavender coloration. This is because of soot and ash particles deposited high up into the Earth's atmosphere.
Moreover, smoke from a large wildfire created a blue moon across eastern North America in late September 1950, according to CBS News.
In addition to this month's Blue Moon Month this year has been an exciting one for sky watchers. May saw a Super Moon where the full moon appeared larger due to its closeness to the Earth.
While the moon on May 5 reached its peak fullness, its perigee occurred, meaning the moon reached its closest point to Earth in orbit. The rare combination made for the moon's appearance to be especially pronounced.