AP Photo/Julio Cortez
AP Photo/Julio Cortez
In case you haven't heard, a dazzlingly bright blue moon strayed across the evening sky on Tuesday night, not only making the magic hour a memorable one, but giving amateur and professional photographers and astronomers something to swoon about.
Of course, a blue moon typically refers not to the color of our big orbiting rocky neighbor above, but rather the rare appearance of a second full moon in any calendar month. The last such occurrence took place in September 2012 and the next one isn't scheduled to happen until July 2015.
Given their infrequency, blue moons have come to hold a special place in pop culture, be it in music like The Marcels' 1961 classic ditty "Blue Moon"; on TV like the Blue Moon Detective Agency in the hit '80s series Moonlighting; and of course, beer like Belgian White Blue Moon ale.
The allure of the moon itself has lent itself to countless sci-fi movies as well as big-screen romances. So with that in mind, in honor of last night's blue moon encore, here's a look at five of the most unforgettable moon moments in the movies. Take a look!
1. It's a Wonderful Life (1946): George Bailey had us at hello. How we admire his intense desire to leave Bedford Falls behind, or as he put it, to "shake the dust of this crummy little town" off his feet and "see the world!" Of course, things didn't work out the way he initially planned. But before Jimmy Stewart's dreamer of a young hero got stuck running Bailey Building & Loan when his dad died and having to contend with old man Potter, he swept Donna Reed's Mary off her feet by lassoing her the moon and singing "Buffalo Gals." The indelible moment sparked a romance that brings tears to our eyes every Christmas when It's a Wonderful Life airs as a holiday staple. And no doubt the movie's full moon had something to do with it!
2. Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961): One of the cinema's most endearing love stories, this Audrey Hepburn romantic comedy gave us "Moon River," one of the movies' most celebrated songs, courtesy of composer Henry Mancini and lyricist Johnny Mercer. The tune, which Hepburn unforgettably crooned when George Peppard's Paul "Fred" Varjack discovers Holly Golightly on the fire escape outside their apartments, won an Oscar for Best Song.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece hit theaters one year before Neil Armstrong became the first human to ever set foot on the moon and declared "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." 2001's tagline referred to it as "The Ultimate Trip" and the riveting scene in which astronauts discover the giant monolith buried beneath the moon's surface is certainly one for the ages.
4. Apollo 13 (1995): As NASA astronaut James Lovell, Tom Hanks commanded our attention and then some in Ron Howard's critically acclaimed historical docudrama. In one of Apollo 13's more thrilling moments, after a liquid oxygen tank is found to be leaking, Lovell and crew must take to their lunar module Aquarius and use it as a lifeboat and watch the moon, which they never had a chance to walk on, pass beneath them, forever out of reach. Thankfully, the astronauts managed to slingshot around the rock and make it safely back to Earth.
5. Space Cowboys (2000): Clint Eastwood leads a bunch of grumpy old former test pilots into orbit to repair an old Soviet satellite without knowing there are six armed nuclear missles aboard. In order to save the planet from potential devastation, one of the bunch sacrifices his life by steering the launch of the middles so they don't fall to Earth. The space western ends with Frank Sinatra's tune, "Fly Me to the Moon" playing as we learn the man who saved them is now resting peacefully on the moon, where he always dreamed of going.