I was scrambling to prepare for my class this morning when the telephone rang. It was a reporter from a local newspaper.
“I was referred to you as someone who could tell me about the blue moon.”
For a moment, I wasn’t quite sure what she was talking about. “Oh, uh, yeah? You mean there’s a blue moon coming up?”
“Well absolutely!” she said, “We were wondering if astronomers are planning anything special in connection with this blue moon.”
She seemed rather disappointed to learn that there are no special plans in the works and that the blue moon is eliciting little to no excitement among astronomers. But nevertheless, she’d been put on the story, and she had to write something. I glanced nervously at my watch. Class was looming up alarmingly soon, and my ability to explain radiative transfer in planetary atmospheres wasn’t yet all it could be.
“Well, would you say that most astronomers are even aware that we’re having a blue moon tomorrow?”
The slight tint of exasperation in her voice made it clear that this one could be a lose-lose question. Indeed, the majority of professional astronomers are probably blissfully unaware that tomorrow is a blue moon in the Western Hemisphere (based on both the calendar and the Farmer’s Almanac definitions). But if I told her that, then I could imagine the slant that the story might take — callous astronomers out of touch in their overfunded overcomputerized observatories. On the other hand, if I professed excitement about the blue moon, I might come off as a bit of a wacko, someone who gets off the bus one stop short of astrology…
“Well, my guess is that most astronomers teaching introductory astronomy classes are certainly aware that tomorrow is a blue moon. It’s a good way to tie the ebb and flow of our Gregorian calender into the cycle of lunar phases. It brings a bit of immediacy and, uh, color to a lecture on the phases of the moon.”
Oklo.org’s latest recommendation is that you take off from work early tomorrow and have a few beers. It’s a good way to get ready for the next ‘606 day, which occurs at on Aug. 6th 2007 at 21:26 (UT).