HAPPY BLUE MOON OF 2015!

Full Moon over and under ocean, location unknownPHOENIX/LOS ANGELES = Friday – 31 July 2015 – 03:42:54 AM (PDT)

Tomorrow, Friday, July 31, 2015, the world will welcome another Blue Moon.  It will occur in the early morning – 3: 43 AM – here in the Pacific time zone.

We haven’t seen a Blue Moon for nearly three years. The last one was on Aug 31, 2012 (see below).

What is a “Blue Moon?”

It is the name given to the second full moon in a calendar month. Because there are roughly 29.5 days between full moons, it is unusual for two full moons to “fit” into a 30 or 31 day month.

The saying “Once in a Blue Moon” means a rare occurrence, and predates the current astronomical use of the term, which is quite recent. In fact, Blue Moons are actually not all that rare, on average there will be one Blue Moon every 2.5 years.

But I had no idea about any of that when I walked onto the Meelup Beach in Western Australia (right) with a group of friends on the Blue Moon night 16 years ago.  It was on Jan 31, 1999 that I first heard of the term Blue Moon and actually watched one rise over the ocean.

Meelup beachIt was an apt place for it. Because Meelup means “place of the moon” in the Australian Aborigine language.  Elizabeth and I also visited this beautiful beach in February of this year (right).

The story “Once in a Blue Moon at Meelup“, published in Feb 1999, helped me (re)remember the details time had erased from memory. You can also read it below.

Happy Blue Moon of 2015!

Meelup blue moonThis image is my simulated full moon rise over Meelup, reconstructed from memory.

UPDATE JULY 30, 2015; 8:05 PM PDT

BLUE MOON OVER SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

Here are some shots of the rising Blue Moon over Scottsdale, Arizona, I took a few minutes ago…

IMG_4238 IMG_4249 IMG_4243

The first shot was taken with the special night vision lens, the other two with a normal camera setting.

* * *

Here are the Blue Moon times in some other time zones:

WELLINGTON = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 10:42:54 pm (NZST)
SYDNEY = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 08:42:54 pm (AEST)
TOKYO = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 07:42:54 pm (JST)
BEIJING = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 06:42:54 pm (CST)
BANGKOK = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 05:42:54 pm (ICT)
DELHI = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 04:12:54 pm (IST)
DUBAI = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 02:42:54 pm (GST)
MOSCOW = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 01:42:54 pm (MSK)
BERLIN = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 12:42:54 pm (CEST)
LAGOS = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 11:42:54 am (WAT)
LONDON = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 11:42:54 am (BST)
RIO = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 07:42:54 am (BRT)
SANTIAGO = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 07:42:54 am (CLT)
NEW YORK = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 06:42:54 am (EDT)
MEXICO CITY = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 05:42:54 am (CDT)
CALGARY = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 04:42:54 am (MDT)
LOS ANGELES = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 03:42:54 am (PDT)
ANCHORAGE = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 02:42:54 am (AKDT)
HONOLULU = Friday * 31st July 2015 * 12:42:54 am (HAST)

* * *

Blue Moons between 1999 and 2015

All dates and times are given in GMT/UTC.

Year Month First Full Moon Blue Moon
1999 January 2nd at 02:50 31st at 16:05
1999 March 2nd at 06:58 31st at 22:50
2001 November 1st at 05:40 30th at 20:49
2004 July 2nd at 11:09 31st at 18:05
2007 June 1st at 01:02 30th at 13:48
2009 December 2nd at 07:29 31st at 19:11
2012 August 2nd at 03:25 31st at 13:56
2015 July 2nd at 02:19 31st at 10:43

* * *

A Travel Vignette

meelup

Once in a Blue Moon at Meelup Beach

WESTERN AUSTRALIA, Jan 31, 1999 – We’ve all heard of girl-watching; bird-watching; crystal ball-gazing; watching a toast that never pops; watching your step, or your manners… But have you ever heard of moon-gazing? 

 Well, it happens. But only once in a blue moon. At the Meelup beach – the “place of the moon” – in Western Australian Aborigine language.

So moon-gazing is not a western tradition. The Aborigines were well aware of the beauty of the Meelup moon. Too bad there aren’t many of them left these days to share the moon with us. Maybe we’d be able to find out if they also knew about the blue moon?

I didn’t. Not until a professional moon-gazer, a banker, explained it to me. If a full moon happens twice in a single month, it’s called a “blue moon.” Since that’s a rare event, thence the expression, “once in a blue moon.” Simple. Logical. Useful. For a game of Trivial Pursuit.

“It’s late,” declared a local Naturaliste expert, the name of the nearby cape first discovered by the French, almost two centuries ago.

“What’s late?”

“The moon.”

“Really? How do you know?”

“It was supposed to rise at 7:44 (PM). And now it’s close to eight o’clock.” Then posing to reflect on the significance of the moon’s tardiness, the expert declared: “It will rise two inches above the horizon tonight.”

“Really? Why two inches?”

“Because of the mist in the air.”

“Hm?” I still wasn’t getting it. Two inches on a horizon as wide as Indian Ocean’s could mean literally two inches; or two thousand miles; or two million miles… depending on the distance from the observer. But I realized I was being way too pragmatic for a setting so sensory; so entirely “out of this world,” that it seemed almost surreal. Several hundred people huddled on a beach, waiting for a blue moon to break the dusk and rise over the ocean. So I shut up, and let my senses take over.

“Want a piece of chicken?” my wife asked. Now that’s letting a sense take over – a sense of survival!

“Sure, thanks.”

As the seconds ticked away, I noticed that just about everybody was also chomping on “chooks,” Aussie-speak for chicken. “It’s the easiest thing to make for a picnic meal,” one lady explained.

“Look at the stingray,” the Naturaliste expert exclaimed, pointing to a distant part of the beach.

“Stingray? You can see a stingray in this darkness?,” I asked, figuring he was pulling my leg. All I could see was a two-masted sailing boat which was trying to move in closer to the expectant moon.

Then, as if he hadn’t made a comment about the stingray, the Naturaliste continued, looking across the ocean horizon. “Just think, it’s so beautiful and peaceful here. But somewhere out there, there are people killing each other. Isn’t that bizarre?”

Having quickly snapped back to my pragmatic mode, I was thinking fast and furiously what countries lay due north from us which could have elicited this comment. Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Russia, New York, Colombia, Brazil… I was mentally following the 110º or so meridian up and around the globe.

“I guess, so,” I replied, not wanting to pursue a political discussion at such a moment.

“There it is!” someone shouted excitedly from behind us.

Indeed, a tiny glow of orange light flickered due north above the ocean. And yes, it was about “two inches” above the horizon. So now I got it. The ocean mist blocks the light until the moon rises high enough above it, making it seem as if the moon actually jumped, like a ball bouncing off the ocean.

From there on, the moon rose fairly quickly, gradually shedding its orange glow, and taking on a milky color which streamed across the ocean like a giant silver runway. The Meelup moon-gazers cheered for the sail boat to hurry up and glide with its sails across the moon. But to no avail. This moon was just too fast for a little schooner to catch it. The boat had to settle for a silver – crossing the moon’s silver runway. Back on the beach, cameras were clicking furiously.

Suddenly, the mournful sound of a saxophone penetrated the night’s stillness. “Oh, no! Don’t tell me that Slick Willie has followed us all the way down here?,” my wife exclaimed.

I laughed. But I was the only one who laughed. Guess that was an “in joke” for Americans only? I decided to leave it that way, as the rest of the people were happily humming along with the saxophone’s tunes.

To say that it was a romantic moment was to understate its beauty. The scene was pure magic. Meelup magic.

“Well, the beer’s gone, let’s go,” a burly male voice said. And so was the magic. Gone. Until the next blue moon, at Meelup.

As if on command, several hundred people got up, packed the remains of their “chooks,” and headed for cars and buses. Yes, the buses. Moon-gazing is such a popular sport down here that the shire (county) even laid on some buses to take those who opted for a 5km (3 miles) shoreline walk from the nearby town to the beach, back to their cars in the parking lot.

“See you next year,” we waved goodbye to some of our new friends. For, friendships minted by the Meelup blue moon are “forever,” the Aborigines used to believe.

“How do you know that?” someone asked.

“Because I used to come to this beach in one of my former lives.”

A look of incredulity showed on my friend’s face. “What loony house did this guy come from?,” the face wondered.

So I added, “Just kidding. I don’t know that. But it’s got to be true. Just ask the Meelup moon.

* * *

WHAT IS THIS MUSIC?

Right after listening to the marvelous lecture by Sadhguru in honor of the Guru Purnima day, this music started to well up in my ears. I felt a Divine connection through it.

I sat down immediately to play it and record it as a symphony orchestra piece the way I heard it, with the strings as the lead. It was all done without any practice.

Alas, I do not know that this music is. I could be Mozart or Bach, I think. So I need your help – my dear musically endowed and educated friends – in identifying these opening bars of an evidently larger piece. Thank you.

My 30-second clip is attached (MP3 file). I am calling it my GURU PURNIMA THEME for now.

Thank you in advance.

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