Early Harvest Moon

The Harvest is my favorite moon – many moons are worthy, only the Harvest Moon stops me in my tracks. Entrenched in Northern Hemisphere consciousness, striking chords in all who lay eyes on her – a primal moon, one that solidifies changing seasons, a moon demanding attention.

Since time began, a moon to coincide with Autumn harvest.  The closest full moon to fall equinox delivers a gift of light – throughout the year moons rise around 50 minutes later each day, at the fall equinox, the narrow ecliptic orbit of the moon results in only 30-35 minutes between moon rise – toss in the light of a full moon and farmers barely notice sunset and moon rise. Harvest safely tucked away before first frost – thank you Harvest Moon.


The narrow angle of the ecliptic means the moon rises noticeably farther north on the horizon, from one night to the next. So there is no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise. Image via classicalastronomy.com.

This year the equinox happens on September 23. Depending on where you are in the northern hemisphere, September 8 or 9 heralds an early Harvest Moon. Click on the earthsky link above the graphic and scroll down to links within the story for precise details of official Harvest Moon risings in your Northern hemisphere location.

On This Harvest Moon….

The Blue Moon on Aug. 31 will be followed by the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the fall equinox. Sometimes called the Hunter’s Moon, it will rise on Sept. 29 in the United States. The farther North you are, the longer you will be able to ponder the magic. The reason it teases us with celestial sorcery – at this time of the year the ecliptic orbit of the moon changes, so we are viewing it through more of Earth’s atmosphere. This accounts for the brilliant colour, and massive size. Another benefit of this orbit change, instead of the moon rising 50 minutes later each day, at this time of the year it’s only 30 minutes. This gave farmers more light to harvest their crops, hence – Harvest Moon.




Photo by Dan Bush of Missouri Skies