Dear TIRF Today Readers,

Last weekend, we experienced what is sometimes called a “Blue Moon.”  This term is used when a second full moon occurs during one month. Normally there are twelve full moons each year, and these are distributed evenly across the four seasons. But sometimes thirteen full moons appear in one year.

A website about the history of the Blue Moon says that monks had a problem with the unpredictability of the occurrence, because “it upset the regular arrangement of church festivals. For this reason, thirteen came to be considered an unlucky number.”  Apparently, during those times, the rarity and the unpredictability of the phenomenon gave rise to the saying, “Once in a blue moon” – meaning that something is impossible or very unusual.

But what does the saying have to do with the idea that the moon may or may not appear to be blue?

The website, The Phrase Finder, states there is some evidence that the current meaning of the phrase started in the early 1500’s. Bishop Barlow wrote, in the Treatyse of the Buryall of the Masse, “O churche men are wyly foxes. Yf they saye the mone is belewe, We must beleve that it is true.” This apparently sarcastic comment referred to the need to believe whatever church leaders said.

The Phrase Finder also acknowledges that in situations where large dust particles in the atmosphere refract the red light in the spectrum, the moon may actually look blue. Apparently this happens when there are large volcanic eruptions, such as those of Krakatoa in 1883, El Chichón in 1993, Mount St. Helens in 1980, and Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

What does any of this information have to do with TIRF? Well, perhaps you are not yet a donor – or are not a regular donor. This is an excellent time to make a contribution to the foundation. Then if someone asks you whether you donate to TIRF, you can say, “Once in a blue moon!” By the way, the next blue moon is not predicted to occur until May 18, 2019, so it’d be great if you could help us now!

Best wishes,