We are less than a week away from the autumn equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, which sadly means that summer is almost gone. But along with trading your tank top for cozy sweaters, the equinox also means that the Harvest Moon will soon shine brightly in the night sky. Here is everything you need to know in order to make the most of both the fortuitous full moon and the subsequent most-even day of the year.
What’s the Harvest Moon?
Simply put, it’s a full moon, which means it qualifies for a cool nickname.
In this case, the reason it’s called the Harvest Moon is that it provides an abundance of bright light in the early evening, which historically was a massive boost for farmers when they were harvesting their summer crops. It also inspired an excellent Neil Young album of the same name.
When is the Harvest Moon?
This year, the Harvest Moon will take to the sky on Monday, September 20, two days before the fall equinox, and is expected to reach peak illumination at 7:54 pm EST. However, the moon may also appear full or close to full for the nights before and after, meaning you could get ample opportunity to see a bigass moon hitting your eye like a big pizza pie. And that’s amore, if you ask me.
What does the Harvest Moon have to do with the equinox?
While the Harvest Moon is one of 12 full moons in a year, there are some aspects that make it unique. One thing that makes the Harvest Moon different from other full moons is that it’s not directly associated with a month. Instead, it occurs in relation to the autumn equinox (September 22), as it can arrive anywhere from two weeks before to two weeks after, meaning it could happen in October or early September depending on the year.
Also, typically, a full moon rises around sunset and then proceeds to rise about 50 minutes later each subsequent day. But in the case of the Harvest Moon, it rises approximately 20-25 minutes later, which means that you will be able to see that big bright moon earlier than other full moons. That’s what makes it special for farmers — and excellent for some star-gazing fodder.