The Harvest Moon often appears orange in color due to Rayleigh Scattering of sunlight from the Moon, which occurs whenever the Moon is near the horizon. The Harvest Moon always rises around the time of local sunset. (Image Sources: Wikipedia.org, By The original uploader was Roadcrusher at English Wikipedia. - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Khayman using CommonsHelper., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15755496)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
More evening light, coming just after the earlier sunsets of late Summer and early Autumn, occur with the Harvest Moon (the Full Moon of September) and a few days near the day of this Full Moon (weather-permitting). Traditionally, this time of year helped give farmers more light in the evening as they work to harvest their crops before the coming Winter. However, anyone can take advantage of this extra evening light, as the early Autumn evenings continue with moderate temperatures.
For this year, the Harvest Moon will be the Full Moon of Friday Morning, 2023 September 29, at 5:57 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 9:57 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Of course, the Harvest Moon becomes visible (weather-permitting) in the vicinity of the time of sunset on the days around the day of Full Moon.
For farmers eager to finish harvesting their crops, the bright Full Moon which shines on their farms for the several evenings closest to the Autumnal Equinox is called the Harvest Moon. This year the Autumnal Equinox, the beginning of the season of Autumn or Fall in the Earth's Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of the season of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere, occurred the previous Saturday Morning, 2023 September 23 at 2:50 a.m. EDT / 6:50 UTC.
The Harvest Moon is one of the signature astronomical events shortly before the beginning of, or shortly after the beginning of, the Fall season. It is an event particularly anticipated by farmers of both the past and the present. As many crops reach the time of harvest in late Summer and early Autumn, often the work of the harvest has to continue past sunset, which comes earlier and earlier each evening.
Nature has come to the rescue of these farmers, with a bright Full Moon (weather-permitting), which arrives just around the time of sunset, that allows farmers and their staff to continue the harvest after the Sun's direct light has dissipated. Hence, long-ago this Full Moon came to be known as the Harvest Moon.
For a similar reason, the Full Moon of October is often known as the Hunter's Moon, which allowed Native Americans to continue the hunt after sunset, to begin to store meat for the coming Winter months. However, the Harvest Moon is designated as the closest Full Moon to the Autumnal Equinox, and such a Full Moon does not always occur in September. Every few years the Harvest Moon occurs in October, shortly after the Autumnal Equinox. During those years, the Hunter's Moon occurs in November.
This year, the Hunter's Moon occurs on Saturday Afternoon, 2023 October 28 at 4:24 p.m. EDT / 20:24 UTC. Of course, the Hunter's Moon becomes visible (weather-permitting) in the vicinity of the time of sunset on the days around the day of Full Moon.
This year's Hunter's Moon comes with a bonus sky event---a Partial Eclipse of the Moon! Although, this Hunter's Moon Lunar Eclipse will primarily be visible in Earth's Eastern Hemisphere (weather-permitting).
On average, the Moon rises about 50 minutes later each day. However, during the days near the Autumnal Equinox, the Moon rises each day only about 25-to-35 minutes later each day in the U.S.A., and only 10-to-20 minutes later each day in much of Canada and Europe. Thus, for several days around the time of the Autumnal Equinox, the Harvest Moon appears to rise around the same time each evening (roughly coinciding with local sunset), providing light at the time most needed by farmers.
The reason for this is due to the Ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun, Moon, and planets through Earth's sky, which makes a narrow angle with the horizon this time of year. It is this narrow angle which provides that moonrise occurs around the time of sunset, near the time of the Full Moon of September (for the Harvest Moon) and near the time of the Full Moon of October (for the Hunter's Moon). Hence, several evenings (before darkness has fallen) appear to have a rising Full Moon.
Also, at this time of year when farmers need moonlight the most, the Harvest Moon appears larger and more prominent, due to the mysterious but well-known "Moon Illusion" that makes the Moon seem larger when it is near the horizon. And, while near the horizon, the Moon is often reddened by clouds and dust, creating the appearance of a large, rising red ball.
Some even liken a rising Harvest Moon to a rising "Great Pumpkin," of Peanuts comic-strip fame! In the Peanuts' network-television cartoon just before Halloween each year (originally aired on CBS-TV on 1966 October 27) titled, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", the “Great Pumpkin” rises over the pumpkin patch to provide gifts to all good little boys and girls.
In China, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and other nations in East and Southeast Asia, a popular harvest festival is celebrated on the date close to the Autumnal Equinox of the Solar Cycle, as well as close to the Harvest Moon. This Mid-Autumn Festival / Moon Festival dates back more than 3,000 years to Moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty.
Although Western Cultures consider September the beginning of Autumn (meteorologists and climatologists consider September 1 the beginning of Meteorological Autumn), the ancients often termed this as "Mid-Autumn". By this reckoning, Autumn actually began at the traditional Cross-Quarter Day of August 1 (when harvesting of wheat usually begins) and ends at the traditional Cross-Quarter Day of All-Hallow's Eve, also known as Halloween.
On the Chinese Han Calendar, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th month (on a day between September 8 and October 7 in our Gregorian Calendar). This usually falls on the night of a Full Moon, the Harvest Moon.
This year's Harvest Moon will also be the last so-called "Super-Moon" of 2023. A so-called "Super-Moon" occurs when the Full Moon is closer to the Earth than average, and hence, the Moon appears a little larger than average in the sky. This month's Lunar Perigee occurs a little over a day before the Harvest Moon - Wednesday Evening, 2023 September 27 at 9:00 p.m. EDT / September 28, 1:00 UTC: 223,638.327 statute miles / 359,911 kilometers distance of the Moon from Earth.
Native Americans also called the Full Moon of September the Corn Moon or Barley Moon, as Corn and Barley were among their main crops. Sometimes, the September Full Moon in the Northern Hemisphere is also known as the Fruit Moon. Other Full Moon names for September include Chrysanthemum Moon (China), Singing Moon (Celtic), Nut Moon (American Indian - Cherokee), Mulberry Moon (American Indian - Choctaw), and Moon When the Calves Grow Hair (American Indian - Dakotah Sioux).
In the Southern Hemisphere, where Winter is turning to Spring, the September Full Moon is known as the Lenten Moon, Worm Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon, or Sap Moon. Another Full Moon name for September includes Storm Moon (South Africa).
The Harvest Moon in the Southern Hemisphere occurs in March or April, with the same advantages to Southern Hemisphere farmers as the Harvest Moon in the Northern Hemisphere.
Internet Links to Additional Info.orrmation ---
Harvest Moon: Link >>> https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/16sep_harvestmoon/
Native American Full Moon Names: Link >>> https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/full-moon-names/
Other Full Moon Names: Link >>> https://www.lunarphasepro.com/full-moon-names/
Mid-Autumn Festival / Moon Festival: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mid-Autumn_Festival
Related Blog-Post ---
"Fall Begins at Equinox This-Coming Weekend." Mon., 2023 Sept. 18.
Monday, 2023 September 25.
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Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), America's fifth major planetarium and Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, the fourth of only five libraries where both construction and endowment funded by famous industrialist & philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
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