Blue moon: A cosmic wink at Neil Armstrong memorial service

The blue moon Friday is on the same day of a private memorial service for Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. A blue moon occurs when there's a second full moon in one calendar month. It won't happen again until July 2015.

By , Associated Press

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    The moon is seen during a public memorial service for astronaut Neil Armstrong at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio August 29, 2012. The blue moon will appear on Aug. 31, 2012.
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There's a rare 'blue moon' on Friday, a fitting wink to Neil Armstrong by the cosmic calendar.

That's the day of a private service for Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, who died last Saturday in Ohio at age 82.

A blue moon occurs when there's a second full moon in one calendar month. It won't happen again until July 2015. The full moon cycle is 29.5 days so a blue moon is uncommon and has come to mean something rare. The moon actually won't be colored blue.

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Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb said the moon is far more important to lovers, literature and folklore than to science.

Armstrong's family has suggested paying tribute to him by looking at the moon and giving the astronaut a wink.

Meanwhile, two Apollo astronauts who flew on lunar missions are promoting the Neil Armstrong children's health memorial fund

Eugene Cernan and James Lovell will be at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center on Friday morning to talk about the new Neil Armstrong New Frontiers Initiative. The Armstrong family asked that instead of flowers, memorial contributions go to the children's health initiative, a Telluride Foundation scholarship in his name or to a scholarship fund in his name at The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Mr. Cernan flew two moon missions and is the last man to have walked on the moon. Mr. Lovell's four space missions included commanding the harrowing Apollo 13 flight that was recounted in his book and depicted in the popular movie, in which Tom Hanks played Lovell.

The service for Armstrong Friday will be at a private club. A complete list hasn't been released, but other attendees will include Apollo astronaut William Anders and current NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. Sen. Rob Portman,(R) of Ohio, will eulogize Armstrong.

A family spokesman emphasized that Friday's service is by invitation only, closed to the public and news media. A public, national memorial service in Washington is being planned "in the next two weeks," according to a statement Thursday.

Astronaut Gregory Johnson was among speakers Wednesday night at a memorial service in Armstrong's western Ohio hometown of Wapakoneta. The evening service was at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum.

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