The Farmers’ Almanac explains the original meaning of what is called a Blue Moon. In short, it’s the third of four full Moons in one season. We’re now in the season bracketed by the summer solstice and the autumn equinox.
The solstice was on June 21st and the upcoming equinox is on September 22nd. The first full Moon after the solstice was on June 24th. The next full Moon was on July 23rd. Yesterday, August 22nd, was the third full Moon of the season, and the fourth full Moon is on September 20th. The August 22nd full Moon is the third of four full Moons this summer of 2021, so it is called a “Blue Moon.”
This rule, third of four, doesn’t make sense to me. It seems to me that the exceptional fourth full Moon in a season is the special one so that it deserves a special name. I’m not going to argue with experts, though. I’m going to relax with a cup of hot tea with sugar.
SciTechDaily also has an article about the Blue Moon. It was through them that I found out that today’s full Moon is a Blue Moon. However, the rule of third of four didn’t make sense to me, so I looked it up in the Farmers’ Almanac also.
The first opportunity I had to photograph the full Moon was this morning at dawn. It looks the same to me as the Moon yesterday when astronomers declared it to be full. They peg it down to the minute — on Sunday, August 22, 2021, at 8:02 AM Eastern Time.
When the Hebrew year is twelve months long, it has 353, 354, or 355 days. I write “when” because every two or three years a 13th month is added.
Let me explain. The Hebrew calendar is governed by the moon. Each month starts with the sighting of the new moon (in Jerusalem) and lasts until the next new moon. The moon’s cycle is a little less than 29 1/2 days long. Twelve of these months amounts to a year of 354 days. This is 11 1/4 days short of the solar year of 365 1/4 days. If the Hebrew calendar only had 12 months every year, it would fall back 11 days every year and cease to be in sync with the seasons. So a thirteenth month is added.
Sometimes the twelve months of the year total 353 days because the moon’s cycle is a little less than 29 1/2 days.
So where does the number 355 come into this? Every so often the first day of the new year is pushed back one day so that the holidays fall on predetermined days and not on others. This deferment amounts to a year of 355.
I’m especially interested in the number 355. The Hebrew word for year is shana. The numeric value of this word is 355.
So, there we have a year equaling 355 in more ways than one.
This full moon is called by some the Pink Moon — probably for pink flowers that bloom at this time of year. The moon itself doesn’t appear pink. CNN has an article about this Pink supermoon.
It is called a “supermoon” because it appears larger in the nighttime sky than other months. Its larger appearance is because it is closer to Earth than in other months.
This year, the Muslim holiday Ramadan began at sunset April 12th with the sighting of the first new moon after the spring equinox. Fasting begins at sunrise every day since then. This full moon of Ramadan is the second one after the spring equinox this year.
The Jewish holiday Passover fell on the previous full moon, the first after the spring equinox. I don’t have pictures of that full moon as I do for previous full moons because it’s forbidden to take pictures on the holiday.
Ramadan this year corresponds to the Jewish month Iyar. I write “this year” because next year it will begin about 11 days earlier than this year on the civil calendar. That could be in Nisan, the month before Iyar. The Muslim year is an unchanging twelve-month lunar year. Since it is shorter than the solar year, the Muslim months fall back relative to the seasons.
The Jewish lunar year would also fall back if not for an extra month that is added every two or three years. The rules for determining each year’s calendar are complicated but fixed. The rules appear in Maimonides’Code of Jewish Law, the Mishneh Torah.
Here are two pictures from this morning, well before dawn. By dawn the moon had set. I’ll try to be out and about tomorrow before the moon sets.
Sunday, February 28, 2021 | 16 Adar 5781 | Phoenix, Arizona
These are pictures of the full moon as seen in Phoenix during the predawn morning. The astronomical full moon was actually early Saturday morning — about 29 hours before I took these pictures. I couldn’t take a picture at that time because it was the Jewish Sabbath — Shabbat. Photography is one of the actions that is off limits. I was busy on Friday predawn, so that wasn’t an option either.
This is also the full moon of the first month of the Korean calendar which began on February 12, 2021, with the sighting of the new moon in Korea. The first month of their year generally begins with the second new moon after the winter solstice.
This is roughly the same time that the traditional Chinese and Japanese calendars begin.
With what I now know, I think that I might have learned to speak Korean when I was a lot younger. (I’m 69.) That might have involved spending time in Korea to study the language there instead of just a visit after I had a decent ability to speak the language.
Korean writing helps the language student because it is phonetic unlike Chinese and Japanese. I’ve already learned to sound out written Korean. I learned it from a library book some 20 years ago.
January 29, 2021 | 16 Shvat 5781 | Phoenix, Arizona
Apparently, the Full Moon was yesterday. I couldn’t take a picture because it was heavily overcast. We’ve had rain on and off for a week. (It’s expected to rain this afternoon.) This first picture was taken about 25 minutes before sunrise, which was at 7:25 AM Mountain Standard Time. The second one was from about a half hour earlier. I took these pictures with a point-and-shoot camera with no tripod, as usual.