'Blue Moon' dominates night sky, captivates observers

8:36 AM, Aug 21, 2013   |    comments
The moon rises over the New York skyline in its full stage under a phenomenon called the blue moon, as seen from West Orange, N.J., on Tuesday. (Photo: By Julio Cortez, AP)
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(USATODAY.com) - It's been the motivation for romantic songs and popular phrases, and last night you had a chance to see it for yourself.

The last Blue Moon that we'll see until 2015 was up in the sky until Wednesday morning. It's not really blue. The phrase "blue moon" usually refers to a rare second full moon in a month. This kind of moon appears only once every three years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

On social media, amateur and professional photographers took advantage of the clear night and snapped and shared photos of the pristine moon against a navy sky. The buzz came from news organizations to every day people to folks like actor John Cusack, who retweeted a photo of the Blue Moon.

People had jokes too, tweeting photos of Belgian White Blue Moon ale and video of 1961's "Blue Moon" by The Marcels.

The Blue Moon also is known as the Full Sturgeon Moon, Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon or Full Red Moon. Initially, the phrase referred to the third full moon in a month, but an incorrect explanation in a 1943 edition of Sky and Telescope magazine stuck, according to space.com.

By the way, although Tuesday night's Blue Moon is not actually blue, there have been blue moons in history, according to NOAA. The last one, however, appeared over Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1950 and was due to moon light traveling through a cloud of particles from forest fires in Canada, NOAA says.