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Rare blue moon will be shining tonight

December 31, 2009 |  5:27 pm

New Year’s Eve celebrations will be a bit brighter tonight with a blue moon shining in the sky.

A blue moon -- the second full moon in a month – isn’t that uncommon, occurring on average every 2 1/2 years.

But a blue moon on Dec. 31 last happened 19 years ago, said Scott Kardel, a spokesman for Palomar Observatory in San Diego County. 

“On New Year’s Eve, it is very rare,” Kardel said. The last one was in 1990.

The name is a bit misleading -- the moon will not appear blue. Rather, the name refers to the expression “once in a blue moon.”

Though many stargazers may be watching the skies tonight, most astronomers don’t like full moons because they make the sky too bright, Kardel said.

“But a full moon is convenient if you’re out celebrating tonight,” he said. “You’ll have a little more light to see as you get around.”

--Anna Gorman

Photo: A blue moon rises over Los Angeles City Hall on New Year's Eve.

Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times