An unusual fall event is on the horizon.
This year’s Harvest Moon —the full moon coming closest to the autumnal equinox— will be seen in October, not in its typical month of September.
So-named for the bounty of crop and food harvests that occur at this time of year (and said to have links to when farmers would use the light of the full moon to work late into the night), the Harvest Moon will arrive on October 5th, well after September 22nd’s equinox. October’s moon is normally given the name Hunter’s Moon but will be supplanted this year by the Harvest Moon.
September Harvest Moon. Who’s on First?
“Usually September’s full moon is called the Harvest Moon, but this year, it just so happened that October’s full moon is closer to the equinox,” says Jesse Emspak for Space.com. “So, September’s full moon was named the “Corn Moon” instead, and the next Hunter’s Moon won’t happen until October 2018.”
The last time this happened was back in 2009, and between 1970 and 2050 there will be a total of 18 such occurrences, with October 7th being the very latest the Harvest Moon can come.
Of note is the fact that the Harvest Moon rises at roughly the same time that the sun sets, and while the moon typically rises about 50 minutes later per evening, at this time of year, the change is less, especially the further north you go in the Northern Hemisphere. In Fort McMurray, Alberta, for instance, at a latitude of 56.7 degrees, the change in moonrise is just 21 minutes per night.
“Interestingly, for those who live near 70 degrees north latitude, the moon does indeed rise at the same time each night around the time of the Harvest Moon,” says Joe Rao for Space.com. “And for those who live even farther to the north, there’s a paradox: The moon rises earlier! At Barrow, Alaska (latitude 71.3-degrees north), for instance, the times of moonrise on Oct. 4, 5 and 6 will be 8:10 p.m., 8:04 p.m. and 7:57 p.m., respectively.”
It’s often thought that the full moon this time of year comes up a more richly red or orange in colour (just in time for Halloween), with the effect being caused by our one and only natural satellite being viewed through a thicker portion of the Earth’s atmosphere at the horizon.
While a time of celebration for many, Manitobans are putting their own stamp on the yearly event with their Harvest Moon Festival, which took place two weeks ago in the town of Clearwater, MB. Now in its 16th year, the music, arts and culture fest aims at promoting links between rural and urban communities and celebrating, you guessed it, the harvest season and local food production. The weather proved uncooperative this year, however, producing gusty winds and rain that forced revellers inside to a local hockey rink.
Other traditional names for the Harvest Moon include the Corn Moon and the Barley Moon, both referencing the time of year for crop harvest.
Below: Neil Young, Harvest Moon