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.

Harvest Moon Time

The full moon closest to the fall equinox is the ” Harvest Moon” – those of us in the northern hemisphere can expect a behemoth moon rising shortly after sunset tonight. Harvest moons appear larger because of the ecliptic orbit of our moons path in relation to the earth. The same phenomenon that sees the moon rise 20 minutes or so earlier than  normal, forcing us to view it through thicker atmosphere – accounting for characteristic orange monster moons.

The harvest moon is familiar to just about everyone – our moon has many names, depending on the time of year. January brings the wolf moon; named by native Americans and medieval Europeans for the howling of hungry wolves in the dead of winter. February sees the storm, snow and hunger moon rise in the icy sky. Native Americans called the last full moon of March the worm moon after worm trails that appeared in the thawing snow. The Pink moon of April is for blossoming trees, also known as the sprouting grass, fish, and egg moon. May’s flower moon or corn planting moon is followed by the strawberry moon to native Americans or rose moon to Europeans. Native Americans saw the full moon of July as the buck moon, for male deer shedding their antlers. The sturgeon moon of August for plentiful fish, also called the green corn, grain, and red moon. September’s harvest moon is followed by the hunter’s moon in October. November has the beaver or frost moon, finally the cold or long night moon of December.

I went outside for an early howl at the harvest moon. Clouds wrapped every corner of the sky, and still the moon cast my shadow. Second thoughts on considering my neighbour’s baby, compounded by scrutiny from the old woman in the window of the retirement home, stifled my bravado. Instead I did a little moon dance while humming Neil Young’s Harvest Moon.

A link to sunrise/sunset locater…


The link that will answer any astronomical question…..


Earthsky link to Harvest Moon,,,,,


Harvest Moon

Although I have recently pondered the Harvest Moon, a little reminder is in order. When the full moon rises this Saturday, imagine a time before electricity when farmers relied on the extra light to harvest their crops.

Normally the moon would rise about 50 minutes after sunset. At the time of the Harvest Moon, the time shortens to 30 minutes. The date of the Harvest Moon changes from year to year. If it happens to fall on the same day as the Fall Equinox, it is called a Super Harvest Moon. The last super moon was in 2010.


Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon. Image Credit: nasaimages.org

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