The Moon was just a phase

Roughly in 1994, I wrote a computer program to compute the dates of the Full Moon.

I originally did this to help schedule Wicca meetings; we like to meet on the Full Moon. I put the tables on the web because, in the mid-1990s, this kind of astronomical information was not readily available to members of the general public.

My original tables only included Full Moons. I later extended them to include New Moons as well. By 1998 I had finalized the format of my Moon Tables page to include thoughts about Blue Moons, and pointers to how people could write their own astronomy calculations programs.

I updated the tables again in 2005, and again in 2010. In the latter case I moved the tables to the wiki I maintain at Nevis Labs, to make it easier to revise the page when necessary.

Since I also maintain the wiki and web logs at Nevis, I’m able to see which pages are visited the most. To my surprise, for many years my moon tables were among the most frequently visited, often eclipsing (pun intended) the main pages of the site, though never getting more attention than the pages that contained the teacher’s homework assignments.

In recent years, that’s changed. It’s much easier to do a web search on moon-phase information. My rinky-dink moon tables are no longer of general interest. The last time I received any email about them was in 2016. It was from someone who wanted to know when to turn his lights on during the dark of the moon; I explained to him that, as an amateur astronomer, I couldn’t encourage someone to contribute to light pollution on a night that would otherwise be good for dark sky viewing.

The pages have served their purpose. I’m not taking them down (why should I?), but I’m not going to revise them further. The final year for which I’ve tabulated the Full Moons is 2025. After that, folks will have to look elsewhere… if they’re even looking at the tables now.

I’m a bit sad. I kept up the tables for three decades. But there’s a time and place (and phase) for everything. The time for those tables has passed.

Just remember: A Blue Moon is the third Full Moon in a season (solstice->equinox or vice versa) with four Full Moons. Anyone who tells you differently is not paying attention.

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