by Stephen Andrews
Did you see the Blue Moon on Thursday 31st August? Everyone was talking about it.
It was visible from pretty much everywhere in the world from Asia to the Middle East to southern Europe.
Where Shigeri and myself live, the view wasn’t that great at first because there were lots of clouds. But, gradually, they disappeared and the moon came into view.
We were both a bit disappointed that it wasn’t actually blue! But, apparently, ‘blue moon’ is just the name given to a full moon when it appears for a second time in one month, instead of just once, as it normally does.
A ‘blue moon’ doesn’t appear very often. Which was the origin of the popular English phrase you may have heard: ‘‘Once in a blue moon’. It simply means something that happens occasionally.
Actually, there are lots of English phrases to do with the moon. Why is this? Maybe because the moon seems to exert some mysterious influence over our imaginations!
Here are a few of the most popular, with their meanings.
Promise the moon
When you promise something that you can’t actually deliver.
‘He promised me the moon but let me down”
Bark at the moon
To waste your time and energy trying to do something which is impossible.
“I’d like a promotion but I’m barking at the moon.”
Many moons ago
A very, very long time ago.
“The last time I saw him was many moons ago.”
Over the moon
When you’re really, really happy about something.
“I’m over the moon at winning the Lottery.”
Ask for the moon
To ask for something that is very difficult or impossible to get.
“Asking dad for a new car is like asking for the moon.”
When you have an extra job and your employer doesn’t know.
“She was moonlighting as a plumber.”
Maybe because it has an air of mystery and magic about it, the moon has been a huge inspiration for poets and songwriters. Check out these popular moon-inspired songs!
Shoot the Moon - Norah Jones
Blue Moon - Beck
Moonchild - King Crimson
New Moon on Monday - Duran Duran
Walking on the Moon - The Police
Man on the Moon - R.E.M.
Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
Fly me to the Moon - Frank Sinatra
If you missed the blue moon this time around, you’ll have to wait another couple of years to see it again. It doesn’t come around that often! The next dates it’s due to appear are 31st May, 2026 and 31st December, 2028 - as the expression goes, it only comes around once in a blue moon!