Blue moon, July 31, 2015.
Blue moon, July 31, 2015. Adrian Etherson

READER PICTURES: The many colours of a blue moon

THE first thing you'll notice about a blue moon is its colour - it's not blue.

It's not that the moon can't be blue. Clouds of ash from volcanic eruptions can give our closest celestial body a blue tint, just as smoke from bushfires can make it look red or orange.

However, regardless of what common sense might suggest, the moon tinted blue by volcanic ash isn't a blue moon, it's just the regular moon that happens to look a bit blue at the moment. 

Blue moon hope you enjoy.
Blue moon hope you enjoy. Desiree Robinson

If that seems a little logic-bending, it's not really any more so than an actual blue moon. It's not even a real astronomical phenomenon. Rather, like New Year's Day, it's more about our calendar than the moon itself.

A few people have shared some fantastic images of Friday's blue moon, such as this one by Adrian Etherson. They'll be...

Posted by The Northern Star on Monday, August 3, 2015

What we call a blue moon these days happens when there are four full moons instead of three within the three months of a season - and just in case that started to make any kind of sense, it's the second full moon, not the fourth, that gets the fancy title.

South Golden Beach,. NSW.
South Golden Beach,. NSW. Jacqui Eisenreich

To find a reason (and I use that word loosely) for that, you have to go  back more than a century and across the Pacific to the state of Maine in the United States, where the Maine Farmers' Almanac started the practise by naming the third of four full moons in a season a "blue moon".

Blue moon rising at Casino.
Blue moon rising at Casino. Dee Hartin

According to Wikipedia, the transition from the third to second full moon is generally believed to have happened about 70 years ago, resulting from an error in a magazine article that was picked up and repeated on a popular radio program before it could be corrected.

Presumably the almanac's publishers chose the term because it was already in the language as referring to something that happened rarely. The term "blue moon" is believed to date back to the 16th Century, when it was used to describe something impossible or ridiculous, in much the way we would today refer to flying pigs.

Blue moon at Casino.
Blue moon at Casino. Dee Hartin

In a 2012 article published by US newscaster NBC, Newfoundland Memorial University professor Phillip Hiscock is quoted saying the term morphed over the centuries from "a kind of metaphor for absurdity or impossibility" to meaning a long time and from there to something that happened rarely.

This was my view of the blue moon on the weekend, from Fairy Hill.
This was my view of the blue moon on the weekend, from Fairy Hill. Roseanne Birmingham

So, the blue moon is at least rare in terms of how it fits within our calendar - the next one isn't due until May 22 next year.

And while, barring a little Photoshop work or a handy volcanic eruption, it may be utterly indistinguishable from any other full moon, it does at least provide us with a good excuse to display some very cool photos.

Captured 1st August around 7pm from Bilambil Heights.
Captured 1st August around 7pm from Bilambil Heights. Beccy Lee Richards


Queensland's body building granny is flexing to the top

premium_icon Queensland's body building granny is flexing to the top

Deb Brown started training three years ago and she's not stopping.

AGNES FIRE: Residents lose power, caravan damaged by blaze

AGNES FIRE: Residents lose power, caravan damaged by blaze

Residents have been urged to keep up to date.

Strangers quick to help save horses from 'fast-moving' blaze

premium_icon Strangers quick to help save horses from 'fast-moving' blaze

Residents were quick to help, in any means possible.

Local Partners