For the Birds Radio Program: Second Blue Moon of 1999

Original Air Date: March 31, 1999

Tonight’s Blue Moon is extra special.

Audio missing


Tonight’s moon is a blue one-the second full moon in one month. Once in a blue moon actually happens on average about once every 2 ½ years, but this blue moon is a special one, because it’s the second one in 1999. We had a Blue Moon in January, no full moon at all in February, and now a second blue moon. The last time we had two blue moons in a single year was 1961, right around when Kennedy was beginning his presidency, and the last time we had two blue moons just two months apart was in all the way back in 1915, before World War I. The next time we’ll have a double blue moon is in 2018.

Oddly, although the expression “once in a blue moon” has been around for over a hundred years, and although Shakespeare used the term blue moon, the sense of a blue moon being a second full moon in a month didn’t come about until the past few decades–it’s not even a definition for blue moon in the most recent Oxford English Dictionary or the American Heritage Dictionary, so I can’t even find out how it first got this meaning. There have been a handful of times historically when the moon really did appear blue down here on earth, usually associated with smoke from fires or volcanoes in the atmosphere.

Back in December, 1990, I decided that I might as well declare any month with a blue moon National Blue Jay Awareness Month. A lot has happened in America since then—:famous people and events have vanished from our consciousness to be supplanted by new famous people and events that will vanish before we know. But just like the moon, Blue Jays will be around whether we pay attention to them or not, whether we like them or not. No matter what else happens on earth and in the sky, Blue Jays are here to stay.