What is a Blue Moon and when can you see it this weekend?

This is a bit misleading, the moon won’t actually turn blue this weekend (Getty)

The last time the UK witnessed a blue moon was back on Halloween last year, but another one is set to grace skies this weekend.

And while it won’t be as spooky, it’ll still be well worth venturing outside for.

Unfortunately, despite what you might read in some corners of the internet, the moon won’t appear blue.

Our lunar neighbour will be its usual colour when it appears on the night of August 21 and August 22.

Providing there’s no pesky cloud cover, you should have a brilliant view of the blue moon no matter where you are in the UK.

What is a blue moon and what does it mean?

A ‘blue moon’, often used to denote rarity, isn’t all that unusual. (Photo: Getty)

A blue moon is the name given to any second full moon that occurs within a calendar month.

The occurrence of a blue moon does not usually happen more than once a year.

Generally, blue moons come around once every two or three years. Our next official blue moon will occur in August 2023.

In 2018, unusually, there were two blue moons in one year and only two months apart, one of which was a lunar eclipse.

The next time we will get two blue moons in a year will be 2037. 

It’s thought that the blue moon got its name from the Farmer’s Almanac.

In a 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine, an article called ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ by James Hugh Pruett, referred to the 1937 Maine Farmer’s Almanac’s analysis of this rare second full moon.

‘Seven times in 19 years there were – and still are – 13 full moons in a year,’ he wrote.

‘This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two. This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon.’

Full moons used to be given names based on the harvests and time of the year, so this ‘extra’ moon might have just been given a name to not disrupt what the farmers had gotten used to.

How to see the blue moon this weekend

A full moon shining brightly over the Shard in London (Credits: PA)

The moon will be visible all night, but actually reaches its peak at 12.01am on the morning of Sunday, August 22.

However, your best time to see it will be on the evening of Saturday, August 21 after the sun sets at 8.10pm. From around 10pm to midnight will give you your best viewing opportunity.

Of course, it’s all about the weather when it comes to enjoying a view of the moon.

If the skies are clear, all you have to do is head outside and look up. You won’t have any trouble spotting the full moon.

Unfortunately, if there’s any kind of cloud cover you may find your view obscured. And the forecast isn’t promising, according to the Met Office: ‘Outbreaks of rain, heavy in places, spreading east on Saturday. Some heavy, thundery showers for Northern Ireland later. Rain and showers clearing east Sunday, then mostly fine and dry.’

So if you plan on heading outside, it may be wise to grab a rain jacket.

Also, if you want to try and get a good picture, it may be an idea to try a smartphone app to help get the perfect moon shot – such as the simple-to-use Moon Globe, recommended by Sky At Night magazine.

The experts at Sky At Night also suggest an easy technique called afocal photography. Any iPhone or smartphone users with access to a decent telescope can try taking their photo through its lens. Nothing else needed!

For pro shots, consider using a professional-standard camera, such as a DLSR, and shoot with a long lens.

When are the next full moons in 2021?

There are a few more full moons to enjoy before the end of the year (Getty)

Can’t get enough of the full moon? Here’s when the rest of the year’s full moons are taking place.

  • September 21 – Harvest moon
  • October 20 – Hunter’s moon
  • November 19 – Beaver moon
  • December 19 – Cold moon.


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