Some of you may be asking yourselves, “What does that even mean?” Apart from being incredibly bright and beautiful, the harvest moon marks a special time in the moon’s celestial orbit where it appears in our sky longer and much brighter than other nights.
The harvest moon rises about 20 minutes earlier than the typical moon - basically, just after the sun sets, with little to no darkness between the sun and the moon.
In the past, this quite literally meant farmers had more time to harvest their crops using the bright lunar light.
Many cultures have used the phases of the moon to track the passing of time; traditionally, each month’s full moon gets a special name.
National Geographic explains:
“In the Northern Hemisphere, the harvest moon is the closest full moon to the fall equinox, which usually happens on or around September 22. That means the harvest moon usually occurs in September. But this year, the September full moon appeared on the 6th, separating it from the fall equinox by 16 days. The October 5 full moon arrives only 13 days after the fall equinox, making it the closer pairing.”
Tonight’s harvest moon will be in effect when the lunar orb glides above the horizon at 7:21 p.m. ET.
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