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On New Year's Eve, when merrymakers crowd the streets, a blue moon will shine over their festive heads - bringing to the holiday both a night-sky rarity and a decades-old quibble.
Most plainly, a blue moon means seldom. Practically never. It's shorthand for an event that happens so infrequently you might as well wait for the big white pumpkin in the sky to change colour.

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The recent hullabaloo about the possibility of a Blue moon on New Year's eve has turned out to be a damp squib. It is not going to take place, at least not in Australia as the web sites and newspapers assumed. The possibility has been ruled out by the leading astronomers. Probably it started when some enthusiastic people misinterpreted the occurrence of a sophomore full moon in a month with blue moon. This phenomena happens once in every two or three years. However, the moon does not undergo any change in its colour.
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There will be a blue moon on Thursday as New Year's Eve revellers welcome in 2010 - the first time since 1990 that a blue moon has coincided with the end of the year.
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The last night of 2009 offers a noteworthy if not rare event. The night of Dec. 31, we have a "blue moon," or the second full moon in the same calendar month. Our first full moon of this month was back on Dec. 2. With a span of 29 1/2days between full moons, that gives us a second full moon this month.
Two full moons in the same calendar month happens about every 2.7 years. The exact time of full moon is 2:13 p.m. Dec. 31, or about three hours before its 5:16 p.m. rise time.

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According to the Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar for December 2009, the winter solstice begins on Monday at 10:47 a.m. (Tucson time).
The winter solstice is the official beginning of winter, and it marks the shortest day of the year.
The summer solstice, which takes place around June 21 in the northern hemisphere, is the longest day of the year.

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Winter Solstice (Dec. 21) was cause for celebration in past times
In 2009, the winter solstice occurs at 11:47 a.m. on December 21. This is the shortest day of the year, with the least sunlight, longest nights, yet in northern Europe, people of almost every culture celebrated it. Saturnalia, Christmas, New Years, all tie in to this critical date on the calendar.

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Another mystical thing that will happen this month is the winter solstice at 12:47 p.m. on the 21st. The most significant thing about that day (at least for me) is that, after it occurs, the amount of daylight will begin to grow each day. Daylight has been decreasing since the summer solstice in June.
On the winter solstice, the sun seems to pause momentarily and then start to come back to us in North America.
The winter solstice was an important event in the lives of ancient Americans, and, believe me, they knew exactly when it happened. I imagine they felt comforted because they knew then that spring would come again.
In Ohio, we know that the Hopewell and Fort Ancient cultures knew when the solstice happened because they left behind earthworks and other features that point to the sunrises or sunsets on the solstice.

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paganstar41.gif

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Skygazers are preparing for the high point of the annual Geminids meteor shower.
The shower is expected to be especially easy to see this year because it is nearly the new Moon, meaning there is less moonlight to obscure it.

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Jupiter is close (7') to the magnitude 5.96 star 45 Capricorni on the 16th December, 2009.

jupiter-2009-12-16-18h23b.gif
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