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Blue Moon Tonight...

Blue Moon Tonight

Thursday,  May 31st - Blue Moon Tonight...

At 9:04 pm Eastern Daylight Time on May 31st, the full moon over North America will turn blue. Not really. But it will be the second full moon of May and, according to folklore, that makes it a Blue Moon.

If you told a person in Shakespeare's day that something happens "once in a Blue Moon" they would attach no astronomical meaning to the statement. Blue moon simply meant rare or absurd, like making a date for "the Twelfth of Never."

But "meaning is a slippery substance," writes Philip Hiscock of the Dept. of Folklore, Memorial University of Newfoundland. "The phrase 'Blue Moon' has been around a long time, well over 400 years, and during that time its meaning has shifted."

The modern definition sprang up in the 1940s. In those days the Maine Farmer's Almanac offered a definition of Blue Moon so convoluted even professional astronomers struggled to understand it. It involved factors such as ecclesiastical dates of Easter and Lent, tropical years, and the timing of seasons according to the dynamical mean sun. Aiming to explain blue moons to the layman, Sky & Telescope published an article in 1946 entitled "Once in a Blue Moon." The author James Hugh Pruett (1886-1955) cited the 1937 Maine almanac and opined that the "second [full moon] in a month, so I interpret it, is called Blue Moon."

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Calypso Orchid (Calypso bulbosa)...

Calypso Orchid (Calypso bulbosa)

Sunday,  May 27th - Photo Of The Week...

Taken on Tuesday afternoon, this week's photo features a Calypso Orchid growing along the North Saint Vrain Creek in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park

The Calypso Orchid (Calypso bulbosa) also known as the fairy slipper or Venus's slipper, is a small pink, purple, or red flowered perennial member of the orchid family (Orchidaceae), accented with white lower lip, darker purple spottings, and yellow beard. Calypso Orchids are found in undisturbed northern montane forests.

Its range is circumpolar, and includes all the western states and most of the northerly states of the United States. Furthermore Scandinavia (northern Sweden and Finland), northern part of European Russia and eastern Siberia and Canada. Two varieties are found in the USA, var. americana and var. occidentalis, which are found respectively east and west of the Sierra Nevada ranges.

Although the calypso orchid's distribution is wide, it is very susceptible to disturbance, and is therefore classified as threatened or endangered in several states, and in Sweden and Finland as well. It is easily disturbed and does not transplant well, owing to its dependence on specific soil fungi. The bulbs have been used as a food source by North American native peoples, though this is not recommended now because the sites for these plants are now rare and easily destroyed.

The Calypso Orchid relies on "pollination by deception", as it attracts insects which it does not nourish and which eventually begin to learn not to revisit it. Avoiding such recognition may account for some of the small variation in the flower's appearance.

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