Blue moon sees in the new year

NO need for fireworks, Mother Nature will be putting on her own light show for New Year’s Eve revellers, with a rare blue moon setting the Northern Rivers sky ablaze at midnight.

The blue moon occurs every two-and-a-half years on average, and it is not timed to the regular monthly pattern. The last time it shone on New Year’s Eve was in 1990. Australasian Science magazine spokesperson David Reneke said the Northern Rivers would see a blue moon to rival any in the world, but don’t expect it to literally be blue.

“The Blue Moon isn’t blue, shooting stars don’t actually shoot, and then there is the Tooth Fairy and Santa,” Mr Reneke said.

The astronomer predicted, if the cloud clears on New Year’s Eve, we should witness a bright, full moon which will peak just before midnight.

Mr Reneke advised it was best to witness the blue moon away from city lights.

“Smoke from fireworks may even give the moon a reddish tinge,” he said.

To top it off, nature’s light show will continue into the New Year with the Quadrantid meteor shower that can be seen around the world from January 3 to 5 each year.

“The meteor shower will be bluish and blazing, travelling about 60km a second,” Mr Reneke said.

Another New Year’s gift for local amateur astronomers is two months of radiant skies, according to Mr Reneke.

“In January and February stars appear in the evening sky rather than the morning sky,” he said.

Mr Reneke said now was a good time to spark the interest of budding astronomers but warned the moon’s finer details were best observed before and after the peak of its brightness.

The earliest recorded expression of ‘blue moon’ dates back to a 1528 pamphlet that criticised the English clergy.

It read: “If they say the moon is blue, then we must believe that it is true.”

Mr Reneke said the only time the Blue Moon lived up to its name was after the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, when all the dust in the atmosphere gave the moon a bluish hue for almost two years.

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