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Nothing really blue about ‘Once in a blue moon’ event Friday

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A blue moon really does happen only once in a blue moon, but it only every few years. Long enough that the so-called “blue moon” long ago became less a fact than an expression without many of us don’t understand.

This gray moon is the one you're more likely to see.

This gray moon is the one you’re more likely to see.

A blue moon is an additional full moon that appears in the same month of of a year, either the third of four full moons in a season or – a second full moon in a month of the common calendar. In 2015, there are two full moons in July; thus the second gets tagged with “blue moon” even though it will likely look normal

The phrase has nothing to do with the actual color of the moon, although a “blue moon” (the moon appearing with a tinge of blue) may occur in certain atmospheric conditions; such as when there are volcanic eruptions or in the American west and northwest where they are exceptionally large fires burning in 2015, leaving more particles in the atmosphere that usual. This phenomenon is specific to calendars.

If you’re heading to the Ozark Empire Fair on Friday evening, don’t forget to look up so you can observe this rare event for yourself. Only the moon actually isn’t actually blue. Actually, it will appear gray like any other full moon. Unless you win a pair of blue sunglasses.

In addition to the blue moon, you could get a second treat this week with the Delta Aquarid meteor shower. The peak is around July 27-30, but, unlike many meteor showers, the Delta Aquarids lack a very definite peak or one night when the meteors are most easily seen.

The “blue moon” phenomenon occurs only once every three years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Meanwhile, the meteor shower derives its name because they seem to appear to come from Delta Aquarii, one of the brightest stars in the constellation Aquarius, says NASA .

The second full moon in the month won’t make it easier to observe the meteor shower: At the shower’s peak, the rather faint Delta Aquarid meteors will have to contend with moonlight, Earth Sky reports. At most, the shower will produce about 15-20 meteors per hour.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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