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All About The Harvest Moon | Weather

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All About The Harvest Moon
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All About The Harvest Moon

One of the most famous full Moons of the year occurs right around this time. It is called the "Harvest Moon" and in the past when farmers were dependant on the sun and the Moon, this was their signal that it was time to harvest all the crops. The Harvest Moon is the full Moon that is always closest to the Autumnal Equinox and this week that happens the morning of the 19th in Georgia.

Here is a fully detailed courtesy of my friends at Earthsky.org:

In traditional skylore, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and depending on the year, the Harvest Moon can come anywhere from two weeks before to two weeks after the autumnal equinox. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the 2013 autumnal equinox comes on September 22, so the September 19 full moon counts as the Northern Hemisphere’s Harvest Moon.

If you live in North America, the moon will turn precisely full before sunrise September 19, but from eastern Asia, the moon will turn precisely full after sunset September 19. See worldwide map below.

Which night is the 2013 Harvest Moon for me? The Harvest Moon for 2013 falls on the night of September 18 or September 19, depending on your location on the globe. In North America, the crest of the moon’s full phase comes before sunrise September 19. at 11:13 UTC. That’s 6:13 a.m. central time in the U.S. on September 19, 2013. Translate UTC to your time zone.

So the night of September 18-19 has the brightest, fullest moon for the Americas. For us, by the night of September 19-20, the moon will be waning.

Meanwhile, in Asia, the moon turns full after sunset September 19. People in that region of the globe will call the night of September 19-20 the night of the full moon. In fact, September 19, 2013 is the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival in Asia, which is linked to this full moon.

No matter where you are on Earth, this full moon – and every full moon – ascends over your eastern horizon around the time of sunset. It’s always highest in the sky in the middle of the night, when the sun is below your feet. That’s because a full moon is opposite the sun. Being opposite the sun, the moon is showing us its fully lighted hemisphere, or “day” side. That’s what makes the moon look full.

Can I look for the Harvest Moon on other nights? Yes. No reason to limit the Harvest Moon fun to the nights of September 18-19 or 19-20. At middle and northerly latitudes in the Northern hemisphere, look for the moon to be bright and full-looking for several nights around September 18, 19 and 20. Around all of these nights, you’ll see a bright round moon in your sky, rising around the time of sunset, highest in the middle of the night. This procession of moonlit nights is what characterizes the Harvest Moon.

Want to know the time of moonrise in your location? My favorite source of that information is thisCustom Sunrise Sunset Calendar. Once you get to that page, be sure to click the box for ‘moon phases’ and ‘moonrise and moonset times.’

Here’s what happens. On average, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each day. But when a full moon happens close to the autumnal equinox, the moon (at mid-temperate latitudes) rises only about 30 to 35 minutes later daily for several days before and after the full Harvest moon. Why? The reason is that the ecliptic – or the moon’s orbital path – makes a narrow angle with the evening horizon around the time of the autumn equinox. The narrow angle of the ecliptic results in a shorter-than-usual rising time between successive moonrises around the full Harvest Moon.

These early evening moonrises are what make every Harvest Moon special. Every full moon rises around sunset. After the full Harvest Moon, you’ll see the moon ascending in the east relatively soon after sunset for a few days in a row at northerly latitudes. The lag time between successive moonrises shrinks to a yearly minimum, as described in the paragraph above. Because of this, it seems as if there are several full moons – for a few nights in a row – around the time of the Harvest Moon.

Is the Harvest Moon bigger, or brighter or more colorful? The Harvest Moon is just an ordinary full moon. It isn’t really bigger or brighter or more colorful than any other full moon. But you might think that it is. Why?

It’s true that, in some months, the full moon is closer to us in orbit than others and so truly appears bigger. But the distance of the full moon depends on where the moon is in its orbit. There’s no correlation between each year’s Harvest Moon and the moon’s location in orbit (the actual full moon size). It’s different every year. The 2013 Harvest Moon is pretty close to an average-sized full moon. The biggest full moon for 2013 falls in June. Nowadays, people call these close full moons asupermoon.

Still, you might think the Harvest Moon looks bigger or brighter or more orange. That’s because the Harvest Moon has such a powerful mystique. Many people look for it shortly after sunset around the time of full moon. After sunset around any full moon, the moon will always be near the horizon. It’ll just have risen. It’s the location of the moon near the horizon that causes the Harvest Moon – or any full moon – to look big and orange in color.

The orange color of a moon near the horizon is a true physical effect. It stems from the fact that – when you look toward the horizon – you are looking through a greater thickness of Earth’s atmosphere than when you gaze up and overhead. The atmosphere scatters blue light – that’s why the sky looks blue. The greater thickness of atmosphere in the direction of a horizon scatters blue light most effectively, but it lets red light pass through to your eyes. So a moon near the horizon takes on a yellow or orange or reddish hue.

The bigger-than-usual size of a moon seen near the horizon is something else entirely. It’s a trick that your eyes are playing – an illusion – called the Moon Illusion. You can find lengthy explanations of the Moon Illusion by googling those words yourself.

How did the Harvest Moon get its name? Why is this moon – the moon closest to the autumnal equinox – called the Harvest Moon?

The shorter-than-usual time between moonrises around the full Harvest Moon means no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise for days in succession. In the days before tractor lights, the lamp of the Harvest Moon helped farmers to gather their crops, despite the diminishing daylight hours. As the sun’s light faded in the west, the moon would soon rise in the east to illuminate the fields throughout the night.

Who named the Harvest Moon? That name probably sprang to the lips of farmers throughout the Northern Hemisphere, on autumn evenings, as the Harvest Moon aided in bringing in the crops. The name was popularized in the early 20th century by the song below.

So there you have it, all about the harvest Moon. I want everyone to get out and take pictures this week and post them on my timeline!

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