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Total Super Blue-Blood Eclipse of the Moon! 4:51-6:07 AM PST 1-31-18

January 30, 2018

Blood Moon of October 2015 (Deanne Fortnam –

OK. Hit it!

Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom
Ba ba bom ba ba bom dang a dang dang
Ding a dong ding
Blue moon!

You could not be a teenager, or anywhere close to being a teenager, in 1961 America, and not hear this song. Radio-blasting from homes, apartments, passing cars, drive-ins and – if you were lucky enough to own one – one of those new pocket-sized transistor radios. It was everywhere.

The lyrics, or at least half of them, were deathlessly simple. Certainly worth repeating, which the backup singers, especially bass vocal Fred Johnson, did – relentlessly – throughout the song. Feel free to push the red button-arrow below and sing along with the Marcels’ original version. We know that you already know it.

Blue moon, moon, moon, moon, moon
Dit Di Dit Di Dit
Moon, moon, moon, blue moon
Dit Di Dit Di Dit
Moon, moon, moon, blue moon
Dit Di Dit Di Dit
Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom
Ba ba bom ba ba bom dang a dang dang
Ding a dong ding
Blue moon!

Goofy, funny, ridiculous, infectious; pathos and loneliness morphing into redemption – who could ask for more in a song? Besides – it had a beat. You could dance to it. I’d give it a 94. Maybe a 96.

The Marcels: Fred Johnson, Gene Bricker, Ron Mundy, and Richard Knauss surround lead Cornelius Harp.

The Marcels formed their do0-wop group in 1959 in Pittsburgh, PA. It took two years for someone – probably a combination of the Marcels and their producers immortalized as  “Stu and Danny” – to take this romantic ballad standard of the American Songbook and turn it into an unforgettable pop hit. The Marcels – more or less a “one-hit wonder,” a common phenomena of the era – were very uncommon in that they were a mixed black-and-white group. Doo-wop groups were ubiquitous; biracial pop, rock ‘n’ roll, doo-wop, blues, or rhythm & blues groups were not.

Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart wrote the original Blue Moon in 1933 for the movie “Hollywood Party.” It didn’t make it onto the screen then, nor did the second version make it into “Manhattan Melodrama” (1934), but a third version did appear in that film. It was not a hit. MGM asked for a fourth lyric rewrite and published that version, then licensed it to radio program “Hollywood Hotel” to use as their theme music. Connie Bosworth recorded it in January 1935, and it later appeared in at least seven MGM films including the Marx Brothers At the Circus and Viva Las Vegas. Billy Eckstine recorded a swing version and hit the Juke Box chart in March 1949. Mel “the Velvet Fog” Torme almost immediately recorded his own version which peaked on the Best Seller chart at 20 in April 1949.

Twelve years passed before the Marcels appeared with their version of this classic, completely reworked for a new generation, none of whom knew that it had been recorded and re-recorded for over twenty-five years.

Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Blue Moon, you knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for
do wah wah wah

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper, “Please adore me”
And when I looked, the moon had turned to gold

Blue Moon, now I’m no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom
Ba ba bom ba ba bom dang a dang dang
Ding a dong ding
Blue moon!

All of which segues quite naturally and logically into our celestial phenomenon of the week, the Total Super BlueBlood Eclipse of the Moon! Right? (Cue the resounding chorus of agreements.)

OK, what is it?, you ask. Thanks for asking.

Total Eclipse of the Moon

Just as the moon can completely cover the sun during a total solar eclipse, the shadow of the earth can completely encompass and darken the moon during the total lunar eclipse. Because the size of the earth, and therefore its shadow, relative to the size of the sun when seen from the moon, is much larger than the size of the moon relative to the size of the sun when seen from the earth, the lunar eclipse can last much longer than the solar. For example, the period of totality for this lunar eclipse will last 77 minutes, almost thirty times longer than the period of totality for the total solar eclipse of 8-21-17, which maxed out at 2:35. That’s two minutes and 35 seconds, about average for a total solar eclipse.


The moon’s orbit is not a circle, but an ellipse, with an average distance of 238,000 miles. The farthest point is the apogee, the closest is the perigee. At perigee it appears 7% larger and 16% brighter than the average moon and 14% larger and 30% brighter than the micromoon (at apogee). When a total lunar eclipse occurs during perigee, it is called a supermoon, a phrase coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle, who defined it as when the moon is within 90% of perigee. The technical name is the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. Ocean tides are higher during supermoons, lower during micromoons. Perigee occurs monthly, but they do not often coincide with a full moon which – in case you forgot – also occur monthly.

Blue Moon

Two Definitions of Blue Moon
Seasonal Blue Moon – The third Full Moon in an astronomical season (spring, summer, etc.) with four full moons (versus the usual three).
Monthly Blue Moon – The second Full Moon in a month with two Full Moons.

The reason the second definition of Blue Moon exits is due to an error originally made by amateur astronomer James Hugh Pruett (1886–1955). He misunderstood the basis for calculating the seasonal Blue Moon and wrote that a Blue Moon was the second Full Moon in a month in an article published in Sky & Telescope magazine in 1946. This erroneous definition spread, particularly after it was quoted in a popular radio program called StarDate in 1980 and then appeared as an answer in a 1986 version of the board game Trivial Pursuit. Today, it is considered a second definition rather than a mistake.

A Full Moon Without a Name
The seasonal Blue Moon originally came about as a kind of placeholder name for a Full Moon which doesn’t have a proper Full Moon name, such as Harvest Moon or Paschal Moon. This way, when there are 13 Full Moons in a year instead of the usual 12, the other 12 can keep their rightful place in relation to the solstices and equinoxes.

How Rare Is a Blue Moon?
The term once in a Blue Moon means that something is rare. Blue Moons happen once every two or three years. In the 1100 years between 1550 and 2650 (UTC), there are 408 seasonal Blue Moons and 456 monthly Blue Moons.

Double Blue Moons happen only about 3 to 5 times in a century. The next year that has two months with two Full Moons each will be 2037, while the last time, was in 1999.

Other combinations of Blue Moons also exist. Between 1550 and 2650 there are 20 years which have one seasonal and one Monthly Blue Moon. The next time is in 2048 while the last time was in 1934. Triple Blue Moons, a combination of one seasonal and two monthly Blue Moons in the same calendar year, happens 21 times in the same time span. The next is in 2143, while the last time was in 1961.

There can never be a double seasonal Blue Moon, as that would require 14 Full Moons in the same year, which is not possible because the time between two Full Moons is approximately 29.5 days.

The Rarest Blue Moon
A Moon that actually looks blue, however, is a very rare sight. The Moon, full or any other phase, can appear blue when the atmosphere is filled with dust or smoke particles of a certain size; slightly wider than 0.7 micron. The particles scatter the red light, making the Moon appear blue. This is known as Mie scattering, and can happen for instance after a dust storm, a forest fire, or a volcanic eruption.
Eruptions like the ones on Mt. Krakatoa, in Indonesia (1883), El Chichon, Mexico (1983), on Mt. St. Helens (1980) and Mount Pinatubo (1991) are all known to have made the moon look blue. Some people even suggest that the term once in a Blue Moon is based on these rare occasions, rather than the Full Moon definitions.

Blood Moon

The rusty-red color of the eclipsed moon is often called “blood on the moon,” but there is another, more esoteric definition.

The term Blood Moon is also sometimes used to refer to four total lunar eclipses that happen in the span of two years, a phenomenon astronomers call a lunar tetrad. The eclipses in a tetrad occur about six months apart with at least six uneclipsed Full Moons between them.

Usually, only about one in three lunar eclipses are total, and about four to five total eclipses can be seen from any single location on Earth in a decade. This means that lunar tetrads are rare occurrences, leading some to attach special, even religious, significance to these events.

The 2014–2015 lunar tetrad (15 April 2014, 8 October 2014, 4 April 2015 and 27 September 2015) gathered a lot of attention because of claims by some religious organizations that the eclipses in the tetrad were a sign of the end times. Some even called the eclipses Blood Moons after a statement in the Book of Joel in the Hebrew Bible, that referred to the Sun turning dark and the Moon turning red before the second coming of Jesus.

As usual, the human penchant for finding personal meaning within environmental events having nothing to do with them is fully operational, and many people see all sorts of religious, mystical and apocalyptic meanings in this sequence of events. This tetrad (in the order given above) coincides with Jewish holidays: Passover, Sukkot, Passover and Sukkot. That the Jewish calendar, including its holidays, is lunisolar – primarily lunar but corrected for actual year length by periodically adding days – seems to be overlooked. Important holidays tied to seasons and moon cycles will of course regularly fall on full moons and lunar eclipses.

Nevertheless, sages find meaning here. “Not only does God’s name have four letters, but it was on the fourth day of creation that God created the sun and the moon, establishing them as signs to mark sacred times, such as the Festival of Passover,” usefully explains Gidon Ariel of Root Source (quoted in Washington Post). Mark Blitz of El Shaddai Ministries says this tetrad of blood moons were partially meant as divine warnings to President Obama about his Middle East policy. “The moons are like flashing red warning lights at a heavenly intersection saying to Israel as well as the nations they will be crossing heavenly red lines, and if they do, they will understand as Pharaoh did on Passover night 3,500 years ago that the Creator backs up what He says.” And thank you for sharing that.

There will be seven more tetrads in the 21st century. Previous lunar tetrads occurred in 1967, 1949, and 1493; there were none at all from 1600 to 1900. No doubt events of unbelievable cataclysmic proportion occurred (but apparently no one bothered to record them) – and will occur – at those times.   [Chuck Almdale – freely cribbed from]

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