Once in a blue moon and backward Venus

The moon might as well have been blue when photographed at dusk over the steeple of Citadel Square Baptist Church in downtown Charleston.

Don’t look now but Venus is going backward, and the moon is about to turn blue. What does it all mean? You could lose your heart. Or your wallet.

Well, that’s a couple of interpretations anyway, out of a whole rigmarole surrounding the astrology of the planet of love and an astronomical curiosity that coincide this week.

On Saturday, Venus went into retrograde, meaning that seen from Earth it now appears to be moving backward across the sky because of differences in orbits. Meanwhile, the second full moon of the month occurs Friday, a not-so-rare event despite the once-in-a-blue-moon cliche. It happens at least once every few years.

For astrologers, Venus in retrograde is a big deal, particularly this time of this year. Look within for hidden beauty, Pandora Astrology advises.

“You are going through a value shift, and that includes where and how you spend your money, as well as which relationships belong in your life,” advises Mark Dodich’s Astromark. As for the blue moon, “Remember that love and money Venus turned retrograde ... and it is good to pull back and review the people and activities that support you.”

The blue moon isn’t likely to actually turn blue. But it could. People have observed and photographed the phenomenon during sand and dust storms, when smoke from forest fires pervaded the sky and at least once in very wet air, according to EarthSky. The Lowcountry lately has had plenty of that to go around.

But in fact, there’s no real agreement among observers about what even constitutes a blue moon.

Some hold to the idea that only the third moon of four full moons in a season can be called a blue moon. That was the idea pushed by the Maine Farmers Almanac in 1937, according to EarthSky.

But in 1946, James Hugh Pruett mischaracterized the phrase as two full moons in a month, in a Sky and Telescope magazine article called “Once in a Blue Moon.” That became the popular notion.

Then, of course, Elvis Presley sang “Blue Moon,” and turned it all into gold.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.