While it’s not the dramatic image you’re thinking of in your head, tonight’s “Blue Moon” is technically correct in Astronomy terms.
According to Weather.com, when tonight’s full moon rises to its peak at 9:45 p.m. EST, it’ll be a “seasonal blue moon” — the third of four full moons in a season. A seasonal blue moon hasn’t happened in nearly three years. And owning to the rareness of the whole thing, won’t happen again until 2016.
“The idiom ‘once in a Blue Moon’ signifies a rare event because scientists had trouble predicting when the distinctive full moon would happen during any given year,” reports Space.com.
That’s not to say that a blue-dyed moon has never appeared in the night sky. Forest fires or volcanic eruptions can send immense amount of ash into the atmosphere – causing the moon to appear blue for long periods of time.
“There was a time, not long ago, when people saw blue moons almost every night. Full moons, half moons, crescent moons — they were all blue, except some nights when they were green,” Tony Phillips wrote for NASA’s Solar System Exploration. “The year was 1883, the year an Indonesian volcano named Krakatoa exploded.”
Blue-colored moons also appeared after volcanic eruptions from Mount St. Helens in 1980, El Chichón volcano in 1983, and Mount Pinatubo in 1991.
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