New Year's Blue Moon: Grab Your Telescope and Vinyls

Parsing the portents of a rare astronomical event

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New Year's Eve this year coincides with the second full moon of December--otherwise known as a "Blue Moon"--and the Internet's a-flutter with odd trivia and tidbits. From folklore and calculations to feng shui advice, this event has inspired equal parts scientific and astrological reflections. (Adding to the fun is a partial lunar eclipse that will be visible in some areas of the globe.) Grab an early glass of champagne--here's what you need to know practically, academically, and spiritually for the event that will help you ring in the new year.

  • Explaining the Confusion Teddy Patridge at Firedoglake explains that a Blue Moon is "the second full moon in a calendar month," although it used to refer to "when a fourth full moon appeared in any season." This next one will be "the first time in 19 years [that] the Blue Moon will appear on December 31st, New Year's Eve." Diving into the particulars of Blue Moon definitions and folklore (the moon won't actually be blue), he adds: "One way to enjoy two successive Blue Moons very quickly, of course, would be to travel to Asia or Australia or New Zealand, as they have two full moons in January 2010, not December 2009."
  • Hope for Better Decade, Less Crime While he hopes the Blue Moon will bring luck, Richard Metzger at Brand X says, whether buoyed by urban legend or no, "some evidence shows that arrests for petty crime and public drunkenness increase 5% during a full moon, and police expect extra aggressiveness and antisocial behavior from revelers whenever a full moon occurs during a holiday."
  • Major Astrology Possibilities PJ Jump at Leaps of Faith writes that, "from a professional Astrologer's point of view, the possibly significant predictions associated with this event are quite exciting. These various predictions," Jump explains, "are predicated on the positioning of the lunar eclipse. In other words ... what sign of the Zodiac does the eclipse fall into, as well as its opposite sign. Then, there is the astrological 'house' that comes into play in relation to one's natal chart. This is where," the blogger admits, "I become completely lost in the translation of celestial bodies and their mathematical components."
  • No Kidding Luckily, Robert Wilkinson has the details. "This very rare [event]," he begins, "falls at 11 degrees of Cancer-Capricorn on December 31, 2009 at 11:13 am PST, 2:13 pm EST, 7:13 pm Greenwich. Since Full Moons always fulfill the energies of the previous New Moon, this Eclipse will sprout the seeds of the recent The New Moon in Sagittarius." That's not all: "This Eclipse shows Maui has 14 Aquarius rising, Santa Monica with 1 Aries rising, Vancouver with 21 Pisces, and the White House with 2 Gemini on the Ascendant (Obama gets a gift!)." Regarding the eclipse's "quintile series aspects," Wilkinson promises to "explain more in part 2." From across the Web, Patrick at Independently Healthy offers that "the most powerful lunar days are between December 28 and January 4, which is the ideal time to start new cycles ... Shine on," he adds, signing off.
  • Enjoy the Beauty "What will it look like?" Asks law professor and blogger Ann Althouse. "Like any other full moon ... But all full moons are terribly beautiful, and a full moon on New Year's Eve--New Decade's Eve--seems propitious. May [it] lift up your heart and inspire you to contribute what you can to whatever can be good about the next year and the 9 that follow."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.