Once in a Blue Moon? You mean once every two and a half years. Blue moons are rare occurrences, but are not as rare as people think.

Tonight, the world will experience a “blue moon”, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

But in this case, the moon doesn’t literally turn blue. The moon is called blue when it’s the second full moon within a month. Usually, there is only one blue moon in a month, with of course, the exception of blue moons.
The lunar cycle is 29 days long, which means that eventually, there will be an appearance of two moons in one month. This usually happens when a full moon appears at the very start of the month, either on the first or second day.

A blue moon happens roughly once every two and a half years on average, the last two happened in August 2012 and July 2015. In rare cases, there are two blue moons in one year. The “double blue moon” occurred last 1999, and will happen again this year – one tonight, and another in March. On the other hand, when double blue moons occur in January and March, February does not have a full moon, partially because it only has 28 days.

Bluer than Blue
There have been cases of an actual “blue moon,” which are rarer than its conventional meaning. The moon changes hue when there are volcanic eruptions or large fires that leave particles in the atmosphere.

One of the longest times a blue moon occurred was when the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa erupted in 1883, equal to the blast of a 100-megaton nuclear bomb. People reported to have heard a cannon-like noise up to 600 kilometers away. Ash and particles about 1 micrometer wide rose up to the Earth’s atmosphere, causing selective light to pass through and reach the surface. The moon “turned blue” for days in areas near Krakatoa.

Reported sightings of a “blue moon” also happened after Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991. Forest fires are also a cause for blue moons because of the smoke and particles they create. In these occurrences, “lavender suns” are also reported to be seen, also caused by particles in the air.

Historical Mix-up
Originally, the blue moon was considered the third out of four full moons in a season (winter, spring, summer, fall). Each season usually experiences 3 full moons, hence the appearance of a 4th moon, or the Blue Moon, which came rarely and is considered the 13th moon in a year. This was based on Maine Farmer’s Almanac from 1819, which farmers used as reference for agricultural purposes.

However, in 1946, an article on Sky & Telescope misinterpreted the blue moon as the 2nd moon in a month, inferring from the idea that the blue moon appeared as the 13th full moon in a year. The article was titled “Once in a Blue Moon”, a phrase which integrated itself into pop culture meaning something that happens very rarely.
From this misinterpretation, a blue moon can be considered either of the following:
1. It is the extra full moon within a season, which usually has three moons (Maine’s definition); or
2. It is the second full moon within a month (Sky & Telescope’s definition).

The latter is the more popular and commonly used definition for a blue moon nowadays, with the other definition practically defunct.

Illustration from Sky & Telescope

Catch the blue moon tonight, peaking at 8:51 PM (Philippine Standard Time).



The Low Pressure Area (LPA) southeast of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan has developed into a Tropical Depression and was given the local name #TinoPH.

At 10:00 AM today, the Tropical Depression was located at 245 kilometers east-southeast of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. It has maximum winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph) with gustiness of 80 kph, moving in a west-northwest direction at a speed of 28 kph. It is expected to exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility tomorrow morning.

This weather disturbance is expected to make landfall in Southern Palawan this afternoon, between 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal Number 1 was hoisted in the said province.

Meanwhile, residents of MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), the Bicol Region, Eastern Visayas, Caraga and Panay Island are alerted against possible flash floods and landslides. Metro Manila, CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), and the province of Aurora will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms.

Sea travel is risky in the seaboards of Palawan due to moderate to rough seas brought by Tropical Depression #TinoPH.

Of Aliens and Astrobiology

It may sound far-removed from reality, but astrobiology or the branch of biology concerned with the study of life on earth and in space, is actually quite practical. Though this field is relatively new compared to the long-established fields of astronomy, biology, physics, geology and planetary science, astrobiology is essential for securing the future of humans. That’s because it combines the search for habitable environments in the solar system and beyond while researching the evolution and adaptability of life here on Earth. Astrobiology seeks to answer fundamental scientific questions about life—including the conditions for it to flourish here or elsewhere in the galaxy.

Meet Earth, Our Planet

The oldest known fossils found on Earth are around 3.5 billion years old, 14 times the age of the oldest dinosaurs. Different theories and beliefs have sprouted on how life on Earth began. Before the 1800s, most people believed in “vitalism”, an idea that living things were endowed with a special, magical property that made them different from inanimate objects.

Another famous theory is Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, which explains how the vast diversity of life could all have risen from a single common ancestor. Instead of each of the different species being created individually by God, the theory poses that all descended from a primordial organism that lived millions of years ago.

Flourishing life

Earth is often referred to as a “Goldilocks planet”. Like the third of the three bowls of porridge in the fairy tale Goldilocks, it is neither too hot nor too cold, but just right. This allows liquid water—which is essential to life— to flourish in our planet. But do you know that the Earth hasn’t always carried water? A theory suggests that asteroids struck the Earth, carrying this life-giving substance and other bacteria to our planet.

It is a fact that humans are outnumbered by bacteria. As Evolutionary Biologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote, “Our planet has always been in the ‘Age of Bacteria’ ever since the first fossils bacteria, of course, were entombed in rocks more than 3 billion years ago. On any possible, reasonable or fair criterion, bacteria are and always have been the dominant forms of life on Earth.”

A journal published online by the University of California Berkeley on April 11, 2016 reinforces that humans represent only a tiny percentage of the world’s biodiversity.

Life on Mars?

Martians or inhabitants of the planet Mars have long been the subject of pop culture, whether in jest or all seriousness. But recent explorations in Mars have found water bound in the fine soil of the “Red Planet”, particularly in the Gale Crater. This crater was created when a large meteor struck the planet 3.5 billion to 3.8 billion years ago. They discovered that Mount Sharp, a mound of rock in the middle of Gale Crater, was built by sediments deposited in a large lake bed, tens of millions of years ago. Experts believe that the crater itself was once a vast ocean. An analysis of rocks at the bottom of a mountain in the middle of the crater shows that water flowed at different levels over the course of millions of years. In fact, there are still substantial amounts of ice water at the Martian poles.

The mission of Curiosity, a car-sized rover that’s part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL), includes investigating Martian climate and geology, assessing whether the Gale Crater has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including the investigation of the role of water, and planetary habitability studies in preparation for future human exploration.

The question of whether there is, or was, life on Mars may finally be answered by the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission, which will land a 300-kilogram rover on the Red Planet in 2019.

Chances of life beyond Earth

We assume that one-fifth of all stars have habitable planets in orbit around them. This leads us to conclude that there should be other advanced technological civilizations out there. In our very own Milky Way galaxy, the odds of being the only technologically advanced civilization are 1 in 60 billion. Thus, it’s very likely that other intelligent, technologically advanced species have evolved before us.

According to the History Channel, Frank Drake a notable astronomer, created an equation that was able to “estimate the likelihood of the existence of alien life, taking into account a number of factors including the average number of planets able to support life and the fraction that could go on to support intelligent life.” The equation found that “hundreds of thousands” of planets that could support extraterrestrial beings could and should exist.

So… do aliens really exist? This question has baffled humans ever since prehistoric man noticed the bright stars in our sky. Thousands of paranormal sightings have been recorded on video since then, with many conspiracy theories and fictional films such as E.T. and Alien generating much interest among UFO hunters. Hundreds of pictures and videos of UFOs are taken every year. While some have been debunked as fake, there are still dozens that have left even the experts scratching their heads and wondering if we really have been visited by creatures from another planet.

According to the Telegraph, Charles Bolden, administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was quoted: “I do believe that we will someday find other forms of life or a form of life, if not in our solar system then in some of the other solar systems — the billions of solar systems in the universe.”

As technology advances, our research probability also expands. If extra-terrestrial life exists, then perhaps, life on Earth can also exist in other planets. Rather than being a scary thought, aliens now give us hope—that we are not alone, and that with the gradual degradation of our planet, human life can still thrive elsewhere. Such is the possibility astrobiologists are now endeavoring to find out.

By Panahon TV Reporter Patrick Obsuna

There are a lot of theories on how the Moon came to being. But one of the most accepted theories is that it was formed from debris that resulted from a collision between Earth and a Mars-sized body called Theia. This collision caused a big chunk of mass to eject from Earth which later on cooled down and then became the Moon.

Our Moon, which is the fifth largest Moon in the Solar System, was given names by several cultures and tribes, one of which is “Bulan” given by the Malays, which is close to how Filipinos call the moon as “Buwan”. Because the Greeks named it “Selene” a titan and their moon goddess, the study of the Moon’s geology is called Selenology.

You might wonder why the Moon looks different every night. This is because as the Earth revolves around the Sun, the light reflected to the Moon varies everyday. This phenomenon creates the phases of the Moon.

Moon’s Phases

Because our Moon is massive, its gravitational pull affects bodies of water during certain phases. This affects the tides, but most importantly the lives of people living near the bodies of water.

Tides and Their Effects on Fishing

Due to the combined gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun, tides occur. Still the Moon is the major force behind tides because it is nearer to the Earth. Tides are periodic short-term changes in the height of the water surface in a particular place.

During the falling fide is the best time of day to catch fish. This occurs when the tide changes from high tide to low tide. The faster the water is moving out, the better the fishing. This is because the fish take advantage of this time to feed on the smaller fish being pushed out to the sea. Meanwhile, high tide is not ideal for fishing because of the rise in sea level.

Tides affect, not only fishing, but also sea travel. Just before a low tide occurs, sea vessels are moved to shallow spots to avoid them from getting hauled into the coastlines. Many marine animals and plants also benefit from the tides. The daily ebb sweeps nutrients from the shallows, moving the juvenile fish from seashore nurseries to the deep ocean.

The pulling of the seas toward the Moon not only affects seawater depths along the coasts, but also the Earth’s rotation, slowed down by what is called tidal friction. The movement of the bulge of tidal water across the oceans and its attraction to the Moon acts as a brake on the Earth’s rotation. As a result, the length of a day increases.

Perhaps the most important effect of the Moon is the way it stabilizes our rotation. When the Earth rotates, it wobbles slightly back and forth on its axis. Without the Moon, we’d be wobbling much more.

Psychological Effects of the Moon

From the word Luna, the Roman Goddess of the Moon, the word “lunatic” was formed. Since the phases of the Moon have a great effect on the bodies of water, Greek philosopher Aristotle suggested that because the brain is the “moistest” organ in the body, it is more susceptible to the pernicious influence of the moon. Agreeing to this is Miami psychiatrist Arnold Lieber who conjectured that since the human body is about 80% water, the moon works its mischievous magic by disrupting the alignment of water molecules in the nervous system.

This is why strange mass behavior is attributed to the presence of a Full Moon. In Europe during the Middle Ages, “Lunar Lunacy” was also known as the “Transylvania effect”, wherein some believe that certain humans transformed into werewolves or vampires during a Full Moon.

Even today, the Full Moon is associated with strange events, such as increased cases of suicides, homicides, psychiatric hospital admission, emergency room calls, traffic accidents, local fights, and animal bites.

Sleep Deprivations

A small study in 2013 by Chrono-biologist and Sleep Researcher Christian Cajochen at the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel in Switzerland was conducted. Out of 33 volunteer adults, all of them slept less during the Full Moon even when they were not aware of the current lunar phase. But a year later, a broad review of sleep-moon research done by scientists at the Max-Plank Institute of Psychiatry in Germany, found no statistically significant correlation between lunar cycle and sleep.

More recently, a research was published on March 2016 by the Frontiers in Pediatrics from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, Canada. More than 5,800 children aged 9 to 11 were analyzed in 12 different countries. The children about 5 minutes less on nights with a Full Moon. This is “unlikely to be important” from a health perspective, the researchers said, but is definitely interesting. Though the brightness of the Full Moon may be the reason for the decreased sleep, researchers doubted this suggestion because of the proliferation of artificial light these days.

Suicides and Homicides

There have been reported cases of an increased crime rate at an event of a Full Moon. A study was conducted in India on 1978 to 1982 by Dr. Siraj Misbahm a neurologist. He randomly selected 3 police stations—one rural, one urban and one industrial in Bihar, Northern India. These three police stations are at least 300 kilometers apart. Gathered data suggested that crimes committed on Full Moon Days were much higher than on all other days.

Psychiatric Hospital Admissions

A study in 2014 led by Varinder Parmar of Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada looked at psychiatric emergency-department visits 6 hours, 12 hours and 24 hours before and after a Full Moon. During the 6 hours before and after a full moon, data showed significantly more patients with personality disorders as well as those who needed more urgent care were admitted to the hospital. However, fewer patients with anxiety disorders showed up during the 12 hours and 24 hours prior to and following the Full Moon.

We cannot argue that the Moon plays an important part in our daily lives. A lot of mysteries have yet to been proven about our satellite but until then, take time to appreciate its beauty and its many phases.

By Panahon TV Reporter Patrick Christoffer Obsuna.

Related articles:

Ten Things You Need to Know about the Moon

Five Things You Should Know When the Moon is Full

Moonstruck: A Closer Look at our Lunar Fascination

Did you shiver with today’s cold weather? This is brought about by the Northeast Monsoon, locally known as Hanging Amihan affecting Northern and Central Luzon.

Amihan refers to cold and dry air coming from Mainland China. It affects the Philippines between November and February where temperatures usually dip. Here are the lowest temperatures recorded yesterday:

Apart from this weather system, a Low Pressure Area (LPA), formerly known as Tropical Depression Bising, remains within the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR). At 10:00 AM today, the Low Pressure Area was estimated at 660 kilometers east of Catarman, Northern Samar.

As Amihan prevails, cloudy skies with light rains are expected in the regions of Cagayan Valley and Cordillera, and in the provinces of Aurora and Quezon. In Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated light rains will prevail. In Visayas and Mindanao, generally fair weather will be experienced, only with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.

Gale warning remains in effect in the eastern seaboards of Central and Southern Luzon, as well as the eastern seaboards of Visayas. Fishing boats and other small seacraft should not venture out due to rough to very rough seas, while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves.
feb 8 wx today

After bringing rains in Bicol Region, portions of Visayas and Mindanao, Tropical Depression Bising has weakened into a Low Pressure Area (LPA).

At 4:00 AM today, the LPA was estimated at 725 kilometers east of Juban, Sorsogon. In the next hours it will still bring cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms in Eastern Visayas, Caraga and the province of Palawan.

feb 7 5am wx today

Meanwhile, the Northeast Monsoon in Northern and Central Luzon will cause cloudy skies with light rains in Cagayan Valley. In Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated light rains will prevail. Generally fair weather will be experienced in the rest of Visayas and Mindanao only with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.

PAGASA earlier explained that Bising recurved due to the strong wind shear near the Philippines, pushing tropical cyclones away from the landmass.

Strong to gale force winds associated with the surge of the Northeast Monsoon are also bringing rough to very rough seas in these provinces:

feb 7 gale

Tropical Depression “Bising” is still inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), but is not expected to hit any part of the landmass. According to PAGASA Weather Forecaster Meno Mendoza, this tropical cyclone is expected to dissipate within the next 24-48 hours. However, it will bring rains in most parts of the country.

At 10 AM today, Bising has weakened and was estimated at 595 kilometers east of Catarman, Northern Samar. With maximum winds of 45 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 55 kph, it is forecast to move north-northeast at 10kph.

Mendoza enumerated the factors that affect the tropical cyclone’s dissipation in the video below:

Along with Bising, the Northeast Monsoon or Hanging Amihan prevails in Northern Luzon. Light rains are expected in the provinces of Ilocos, Cagayan and Batanes. Partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated light rains will prevail in Metro Manila and the regions of Central Luzon, Cordillera, the rest of Ilocos and Cagayan Valley. Cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms will be experienced in the Eastern Visayas and Caraga Region. The rest of the country will have partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.

11AM update

Gale force winds affect some areas in the eastern seaboards of Southern Luzon and the Visayas, as well as the northern seaboard of Northern Luzon. Fishing boats and other small seacraft are advised not to venture out into the sea, while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves.

gale feb 6

Tropical Depression “Bising” is not expected to hit any part of the Philippine landmass; however, rains will still be experienced in most parts of the country.
At 4 AM today, Bising was estimated at 410 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. With maximum winds of 45 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 55 kph, it is forecast to move north-northwest at 11 kph.


In an interview with PanahonTV, PAGASA Weather Forecaster Meno Mendoza said this tropical cyclone is expected to recurve and exit the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) in the next days without hitting any part of the country.

“Ito’y nagre-recurve o hindi tatama dito sa ating kalupaan dahil sa malakas na wind shear na malapit dito sa Pilipinas. Ito yung malakas na hangin na nagtutulak papalayo sa ating Bagyong Bising kaya hindi nga ito makaka-landfall sa ating kalupaan.” (It recurved due to the strong wind shear near the Philippines. These winds are pushing Tropical Depression Bising away from the landmass.)

No storm signals were raised, but moderate to occasionally heavy rains are expected within the 300-kilometer diameter of the tropical cyclone.

Aside from Bising, the Northeast Monsoon is also dominant in the Philippine Area of Responsibility, affecting Luzon. Today, cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms will be experienced in Visayas, Mindanao, Bicol Region, and the province of Quezon. Cloudy skies with light rains are also expected in the regions of Cagayan Valley, Cordillera and Central Luzon. In Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rains will prevail.

The Northeast Monsoon, enhanced by Bising, is also causing strong to gale force winds in the eastern seaboards of Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Fishing boats and other small seacraft are advised not to venture out into the sea, while larger sea vessels are alerted against big waves.

The first weekend of February this year will be rainy, brought about by the month’s first cyclone, Tropical Depression Bising. As of 5 AM today, it was spotted at 560 kilometers east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. Garnering maximum winds of 45 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 55 kph, it is expected to move west-northwest at 13 kph.

In an interview with Panahon TV, PAGASA Weather Forecaster Lori dela Cruz said Bising has a slim chance of hitting the land and instead, may re-curve away from the country. Based on the climatological records of the weather bureau, a cyclone that enters the Philippine premises during this month usually has a slim chance of making landfall.

Along with Bising, the Northeast Monsoon or Hanging Amihan prevails in Luzon. No tropical cyclone warning signal was issued today, but rains are more likely to affect several parts of the archipelago. Residents of Visayas, Mindanao, Bicol Region and the province of Quezon are advised to prepare for cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms.

Meanwhile, cloudy skies with light rains will be experienced in the Cagayan Valley Region and the province of Aurora. Partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated light rains will prevail in Metro Manila, the regions of Ilocos and Cordillera, and the rest of Central Luzon. The rest of the country will have generally fair weather condition with chances of isolated rain showers or thunderstorms.

Just like the Southwest Monsoon or Hanging Habagat, Amihan can also be enhanced by a tropical cyclone that can boost stronger winds and higher waves. As a result, rough to very rough seas may be experienced in the eastern seaboards of Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

These include the Camarines provinces, Catanduanes, the eastern coasts of Albay, Sorsogon and Quezon including Polillo Island, the coasts of Northern & Eastern Samar, and the eastern coasta of Leyte, Surigao, Davao Oriental, Dinagat Island and Siargao. Wave height could reach up to 4.5 meters, making it risky for fishing boats and other small seacraft to venture out into the sea.