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Apia, 19 August 2021 The night sky over Samoa will feature an interesting celestial event this weekend. The full moon on the Sunday night, 22 August, will be the third of four full moons in the autumn season for the southern hemisphere. Seasons usually only have three full moons, one for each month in a season but when there are four full moons, the third moon is known as a “blue moon.” Because full moons are separated by 29 days, two full moons can also appear in one calendar month and the second moon is also called a blue moon. The last blue moon, the second full moon in a single month, was on 31 March 2018 and the next blue moon, the third in a single season, will be on 19 August 2024.
Despite its name, the moon will not appear blue but the rare event has given rise to the saying “once in a blue moon,” a reference to a rare or uncommon event. Blue moons can also be associated with other natural phenomenon and indigenous peoples around the world have their own names such as “Sturgeon Moon” as ascribed by native American Indians, coinciding as it does with when this large fish becomes abundant in the lakes and rivers of North America. Other names for this moon include Grain Moon, Green Corn Moon, Fruit Moon, and Barley Moon. It is not known if Samoans of old had a name for this “extra” full moon and is one of many questions for which answers will be sought.
To mark this interesting celestial event, the Tiapapata Art Centre has this week been assembling telescopes recently received from Australia in order that sky watchers interested in astronomy may have a close up view of this rare lunar event on Saturday and Sunday evenings, weather permitting. An added bonus is the fact that Jupiter and Saturn will also be clearly visible these nights and will appear close to the full moon.
The Blue Moon watch parties will be held after sunset on Saturday and Sunday and will feature an eclectic range of music and songs about the moon, from the Samoan song “Samoa e lo’u Atunu’u Pele”, to jazz classics “Blue Moon,” “Moon River,” and “Fly me to the Moon,” to the rhythms of Santana’s “Moonflower,” Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising,” and songs from the Pink Floyd’s album “Dark Side of the Moon.” Sky watchers who are also Crooners who may want to sing any of the many songs about the moon are welcome. The evenings will end with Beethoven’s classical masterpiece, “Moonlight Sonata.” Refreshments will have a blue and moon theme with blue vein cheese and crackers, half moon blueberry pies and Chinese moon cakes. Night sky watchers wanting join the viewing of the blue moon at Tiapapata are encouraged to dress in blue. This Blue Moon will be the first in a series of astronomical events to be admired through the telescopes at Tiapapata where discussions will be held for the formation of an organisation promoting knowledge of and interest in astronomy and the night sky over Samoa.
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