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Blue moon on Friday: What it means and how to see it online

August 31, 2012|By Deborah Netburn
  • A waning full moon rises behind the clouds in Erfurt in central Germany this month.
A waning full moon rises behind the clouds in Erfurt in central Germany this… (Jens Meyer / AP Photo )

Tonight as you head home from work, take a moment to look up in the sky and contemplate the blue moon -- it's the last time you'll get to see one until July 2015.

Of course, it's not likely that the moon will actually look blue. The term "blue moon" refers to the second time that a full moon rises in the same calendar month. The moon was full Aug. 1 and will also be full Aug. 31.

It may not be as dramatic or romantic as the phrase "blue moon" seems, but hey -- let's make the most of it.

If you want to join in on blue moon fever, head over to Slooh.com, a website that shows live video taken from telescopes around the world. 

Slooh has planned a special broadcast beginning at 3 p.m Pacific time Friday that will have live, zoomed-in, real-time feeds of the moon from an observatory on the Canary Islands.

The broadcast will also honor Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, who died Saturday at the age of 82.

“This Blue Moon that Slooh will explore Friday night is somewhat rare, but not as rare as the courage and talent of the late Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on our nearest celestial neighbor," Bob Berman, Slooh editor and Astronomy Magazine columnist, said in a statement.

Berman said the telescopes will be trained on the Sea of Tranquillity, the landing site for the first manned trip to the moon.

If you don't have time to tune in to Slooh's full broadcast, you can check out this video about the blue moon put together by NASA. One thing you'll learn from watching it is that there actually are times when the moon appears to be blue, but that tends to happen after a volcano erupts or after a major forest fire. Ash in the atmosphere can act as a blue filter.

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Watch for rare blue moon on Friday morning (yes, the morning)

Follow Deborah Netburn on Twitter or Google+

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