If skies are clear, blue moon will light up New Year's Eve

A blue moon will be upon us tonight.

Astronomers and astrologers disagree on a blue moon's significance, but they agree it's rare for one to rise on New Year's Eve.

Once in a blue moon, as the saying goes.

They happen every two to three years and aren't really blue. Blue moon is the term given to the second full moon in a month. According to NASA, the term originated in the time of Shakespeare to mean a rare occurrence, and the Farmer's Almanac of Maine defined it in the 1930s as the third full moon in a season that has four. But the 1946 definition as the second full moon of the month is the one that has stuck.

December's first full moon fell on Dec. 2. The moon cycle occurs every 29.5 days and a full moon, in most years, happens 12 times in the year. Tonight, the forecast is for partly cloudy skies, so we should be able to glimpse the blue moon.

A blue moon last rose in Kansas in May 2007. The next will be Aug. 31, 2012.

The last New Year's Eve blue moon was in 1990. The next is in 2028.

A blue moon on a New Year's Eve has special significance for some people.

"Astrology aside, there is the system of understanding that this is the last day of the year," said Cynthia Killion, a Wichita psychic and astrologer.

Combined with a blue moon, "it is a very loaded, energetically intense and powerful time. It gives people extra power in making resolutions and change."

Astronomer Greg Novacek doesn't buy that.

"There is nothing special about it," said Novacek, director of the Fairmount Center for Science and Mathematics Education at Wichita State University and director of Lake Afton Public Observatory.

"It's a full moon that looks the same as every other full moon."

But blue moons have captured the imagination over the years.

During the midst of the Great Depression in 1934, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote this song:

"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."

For two decades beginning in the 1940s, one of the best-known gathering spots in Wichita was the Blue Moon Ballroom, which catered to anyone who enjoyed big band sound.

Entertainers such as Bob Hope, Benny Goodman, Lawrence Welk and Tommy Dorsey performed at the Blue Moon, 3401 S. Oliver. World War II soldiers brought girlfriends, aircraft workers met after hours, and businessmen wheeled and dealed.

Tonight, look up in the sky and see the latest blue moon. And take from it what you will.

"This moon puts a lot of pressure on us to make change," Killion said. "It is a not-so-gentle push from the universe telling us to get off our butts and change.

"The blue moon is considered somewhat of a blessing, like a doorway might be opened for miracles."

Just like in the song:

"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

Without a love of my own."

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