Photograph of Blockhouse replica at Fort Ouiatenon, a mid-18th century French fort on the Wabash River near West Lafayette, Indiana. Each year a weekend Hunter's Moon Festival, "Feast of the Hunter's Moon," is held at the Fort Ouiatenon site. The festival reenacts the annual 18th century Fall gathering of French and Native Americans.
(Image Sources: Wikipedia.com, By Hammer51012 - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8529879)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
The annual Hunter's Moon, the Full Moon of October this year, is visible this week, weather-permitting, particularly Tuesday and Wednesday evenings / early Wednesday and Thursday mornings, as well as a near-Full Hunter's Moon for the rest of the week.
The exact moment of the Full Moon of October, known as the Hunter's Moon most years including this year, is 10:56 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 14:56 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on Wednesday Morning, 2021 October 20.
While the Native Americans, as well as the farmers of Europe and early America, gave names to each Full Moon of the year, normally associating each Full Moon name with a particular month of the year, two well-known Full Moon names stray from this convention. The annual Harvest Moon and the annual Hunter's Moon are aligned with the season of Autumn or Fall, and each can occur in one of two possible months each year: September or October for the Harvest Moon and October or November for the Hunter's Moon.
The Harvest Moon is defined as the Full Moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox, the astronomical beginning of the season of Autumn or Fall. The Autumnal Equinox occurs each year around September 22 or 23. Of course, the Harvest Moon can, and often does, occur in late Summer, before the Autumnal Equinox.
The Hunter's Moon is simply defined as the Full Moon following the Harvest Moon.
So, in certain years (approximately one-third of the time), the Harvest Moon occurs in early October, as then the Full Moon of October is closer to the Autumnal Equinox than the September Full Moon. Then, the Hunter's Moon is pushed-off until early November.
The Hunter's Moon, as with the Harvest Moon, is special, because it gave our ancestors more light in the evening, as the Sun was setting earlier each day. On average, the Moon rises about 50.47 minutes later from one day to the next. However, during the week around the time of the Hunter's Moon and the week around the time of the Harvest Moon, the Moon rises only about a half-hour later each day, for several days before and after the Hunter's Moon or Harvest Moon, in mid-northern latitudes (and only 10-to-20 minutes later each day in much of Canada and Europe).
On average, the Full Moon rises about the time of sunset (and sets around the time of sunrise). During the week around the time of the Harvest Moon, and the time of the Hunter's Moon, the time between sunset and moonrise is much shorter than at other times of the year. This is due to the inclination of the Moon's orbital plane, this time of year, which causes the Moon to rise further north along the eastern horizon (as the rising of the Sun occurs further south along the eastern horizon, as we head towards the Winter Solstice).
This means that, for a week around the time of the Harvest Moon, farmers had light into the evening which allowed them to finish harvesting their crops.
In the case of the week around the time of the Hunter's Moon, this gave our ancestors light in the evening to hunt more game, to save for the coming long, cold Winter months. By the time of the Hunter's Moon, the crops had all been harvested, ensuring that game could not find hiding places in farm fields, as fox and other animals tried to glean left-overs in the fields. Likewise, with many trees barren of leaves, it was easier for hunters to find their prey in the forests.
At this time of year, deer and other animals were fattening themselves for the long Winter. Hence, this was the perfect time for hunting these animals. The Hunter's Moon served as a warning, to both European farmers as well as North American tribes, of the looming cold and snowy days of Winter.
Hence, the Hunter's Moon was often an important feast day in both Europe and America. One of these festivals, a reenactment (held on a weekend in October since 1968) of the gathering of French and Native Americans called the “Feast of the Hunter's Moon,” occurs each year at the site of Fort Ouiatenon, a mid-18th century French military garrison and trading post on the Wabash River near West Lafayette, Indiana. The first fortified European settlement in what is now the state of Indiana, the original fort was located approximately one mile down-river from Historic Fort Ouiatenon Park, where the festival now occurs.
In the Northern Hemisphere, Native Americans also called the October Full Moon the Blood Moon or Sanquine Moon. October is also known as the Dying Grass Moon and the Travel Moon. American Indians were also known to call the month of October the Leaf-Falling Month or the Nuts Month.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the October Full Moon was known as the Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Seed Moon, Pink Moon, and Waking Moon.
For years when the Harvest Moon occurs in October (when the October Full Moon date is closer to the Autumnal Equinox than the September Full Moon date), the November Full Moon is then known as the Hunter's Moon.
Otherwise, the Full Moon of November, in the Northern Hemisphere, is generally known as the Beaver Moon. This was the time when Native Americans set-out beaver traps, before creeks and swamps froze-over, to ensure a good supply of warm furs for the coming Winter. Although beavers do not hibernate, by the following month the beavers would be in their lodges for the Winter, difficult for hunters to trap.
This beaver fur was its most usable at this time of year, both waterproof and warm. The furs also provided a special oil, used as a hair protector. The beaver was revered by the Native Americans, spiritually.
While most people consider the Full
Moon of November as the Beaver Moon (in addition to the years when it
is considered the Hunter's Moon), the Native Americans actually
considered the whole Moon cycle (all four Moon phases) as the Beaver
Moon (i.e. the Beaver Month for the 28.5-day lunar cycle).
Other researchers believe the Beaver Moon name came from the fact that beavers, themselves, are active building water dams, preparing for Winter.
November's Full Moon sometimes is also referred to as the Frost or Frosty Moon. And, some American Indian tribes referred to the November Full Moon as the Deer-Mating Moon or the Fur-Pelts Moon.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the Full Moon of November is known as the Corn Moon, Milk Moon, Flower Moon, and Hare Moon.
The Hunter's Moon in the Southern Hemisphere usually occurs in April, but sometimes in May, with the same advantages to Southern Hemisphere hunters as the Hunter's Moon in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Harvest Moon usually occurs in March, near the Vernal Equinox, but sometimes in April, with the same advantages to Southern Hemisphere farmers as the Harvest Moon in the Northern Hemisphere.
Internet Links to Additional Information ---
Hunter's Moon: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_moon#Harvest_moon
Differences between Hunter's and Harvest Moons: Link >>> https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/hunters.html
Feast of the Hunter's Moon:
Link 1 >>> http://feastofthehuntersmoon.org/
Related Blog-Post ---
"Harvest Moon Mon.; Fall Begins Wed." Mon., 2021 Sept. 20.
Monday, 2021 October 18.
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Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
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