The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

Happy Blue Moon New Year

Yep, just a quick post (which I have been negligent in doing recently) wishing everyone a great New Year and reminding you that there is a Blue Moon tonight.  The first full Moon in December was on December 2nd so this is the second full Moon, commonly referred to as a blue Moon (even though the Moon will not appear any more blue than normal).

So what’s special about the New Year astronomically?  Pretty much nothing.  It does not coincide with any special point in space, it is not a solstice or equinox, it does not mark Earth’s closest or farthest from the Sun (although the closest approach does occur in early Janaury) and there is not big sign in space saying “GO” that we all collect $200 when we pass (although that would be nice).

In fact, there is not a single point in Earth’s obrit that marks a New Year.  Remember, it takes us about 365.25 days to go around the Sun, so each year we end up making it not quite all the way around.  Every four years we add an extra day to get us back on track.  But its not exactly 365.25 days either, so if you look at longer time scales, there are other rules..for example, if the year is evenly divisible by 100 there is NOT a leap day added unless it is also divisible by 400.  We had a leap day in 2000, but did not in 1900 and will not in 2100.

So have fun tonight as Earth passes through no particularly significant point in space!

December 31, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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