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In the Almanac(page 127), why is the August 31st full moon named the "red moon" instead of the blue moon?
I believe this name is one of the names given to a full moon in August. Each full moon has a special name given to it depending on what month it's present. For example, the September moon is also known as the Harvest Moon. Furthermore, a blue moon is actually the third out of four moons in a season, instead of the second full moon in a calendar month. The definition of "Blue Moon" was made incorrect back in the 40s by a newspaper article and wasn't corrected until 1999 so it is understandable why some still believe it to be the second full moon in a calendar month. Hope this helps.
July 3 is the first full moon of the season. Followed by August 2 then August 31. The next one is September 30, which is after the autumnal equinox. So there's only three full moons in the summer season therefore no blue moon.
Looking at the list of Moon names, I see that the OFA uses an alternate name for a full moon when it is the second one of the month. Where does the name 'Red Moon' for the Aug 31, 2012 full moon come from? It is not on the list.
The right-hand pages of The Old Farmer's Almanac, and our calenders and other products, list Native American or colonial names for the full Moon. Yes, it is our style to list an alternate name for the second full Moon in a month if one occurs. In this case, the Full Red Moon, which is an Algonquin name.
We could have labeled the full Moon on August 31 a Blue Moon as a common definition of a Blue Moon is the second full Moon in a month, but this would not have been a Native American or colonial name, and we wanted to be consistent.
It's important for people to remember that there isn't one sanctioning body in the world that defines the name for things. Moon phases have varying names based on location and culture. What one nation in the Native American culture names a moon phases, doesn't mean another Native Nation is going to use that same name.
In other words, the Cherokee in the Eastern U.S. may have one set of names for the full moon and the Yakma in the northwest may have a completely different set of names.
One of the first literary references to "blue moon" comes from a pamphlet written in protest by two converted Greenwich friars, William Roy and Jerome Barlow.
Rede me and be nott wrothe,
For I saye nothinge but trothe.
If they say the moon is belewe,
We must believe that it is true.
1524 ~ William Roy and Jerome Barlow
I'm writing an article about the history of the blue moon on my blog and found this info today.