Summer is over. Autumn is here. And as a way to really kick those sweltering days in the butt and say goodbye, the final supermoon of the year — the fourth in a row, the upcoming Super Harvest Moon, is about to light our night skies aglow and help us say goodbye to the summer season, once and for all. But when does the final super harvest moon rise? How big will it be? And is there anything else cool happening in our night skies this autumn? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is a Harvest Moon?
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the reason this Full Moon is called the Harvest Moon is because it shines brightly in the early evenings during the time of year when farmers are harvesting summer crops. Its timing varies between September and October, depending on its proximity to the autumnal equinox.
“Depending on the year, the full Harvest Moon can occur anywhere from two weeks before the autumn equinox to two weeks after,” EarthSky explains. “So it can come in either September or October.” (When the Harvest Moon falls in October, the September Full Moon is instead called the Corn Moon.)
And making this Full Moon even more special is it’s considered a “Super” Harvest Moon because it’s going to appear even larger in our skies. “A supermoon looks larger just because it's a bit closer to Earth,” NASA shares. “Supermoon’ is actually just a nickname for what astronomers call a perigean full moon – a moon that is full and at its closest point in its orbit around Earth.”
This year’s Super Harvest Moon is the last of the four supermoons in a row for 2023. And this one will be spectacular. According to NASA, this supermoon will appear about 5% bigger and 13% brighter than the average Full Moon this year.
When and how can I watch the Super Harvest Moon?
This year, the fall equinox fell on September 23, and the Full Moon comes less than a week later, EarthSky explains. The Super Harvest Moon will happen overnight on September 28-29.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains that the moon will reach “peak illumination at 5:58 A.M. Eastern Time on Friday the 29th, drifting below the horizon shortly thereafter.”
You can see the gorgeous supermoon in the night sky without having to drive away from light pollution or having any fancy equipment. Just look up and behold the gorgeous, brilliantly shining supermoon.
Make sure to double-check the best time to see the Super Harvest Moon based on your location using the Moonrise and Moonset Calculator because the next time we’ll have a supermoon will be a year from now, September 18, 2024.
And just because the super moons are over for the year, doesn’t mean that the fun has to end, too. Don’t forget to mark the calendar for the upcoming 2023 annular “ring of fire” solar eclipse, which will happen on Saturday, October 14. It’s called such because of the way it will appear in the sky — totally dark in the middle, with a ring of yellow fire on the outside.