Blue moon to shine over Portsmouth

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The memorial celebrating Portsmouth's great boxers is unveiled by Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Ken Ellcome and boxer Joel McIntyre Picture: Neil Marshall (171035-23)

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Stargazers are set to see a rare blue moon phenomenon in the skies over Portsmouth tonight.

The sight being so rare, the phrase ‘once in a blue moon’ was coined because of it.

But rather than the moon actually changing colour, a blue moon refers to when two full moons appear in the same calendar month.

The first full moon was spotted on 1 July and the second will appear tonight.

Here’s what timeanddate.com has to say on blue moons: “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.

“Eruptions like on Mount Krakatoa, Indonesia (1883), Mount St. Helens (1980) and Mount Pinatubo (1991) are all known to have caused blue moons.”

This appearance is the first such occurrence in three years since the last blue moon month in August 2012, the next will not be until 2018.

Astronomers predict it will only happen on 12 occasions between now and 2043.

Friday’s weather is set to be mostly clear with just a few clouds around, so there is a good chance of getting a good view of the phenomenon.

If you miss this Friday’s blue moon, here are your next opportunities:

31 January 2018

31 March 2018

31 October 2020

31 August 2023

Photo: flickr.com/photos/sagesolar/