The total solar eclipse in August had us setting up camp on our lawns, but there’s another phenomenon happening tonight that you won’t want to miss: the harvest moon! Let us explain why this harvest moon is so special.
What is a harvest moon?
The harvest moon is the first full moon that occurs after the autumn equinox — the first day of fall — which fell on Sept. 22, 2017. This harvest moon is rare because it falls in October (Oct. 5 to be exact) instead of September.
In the days leading up to a harvest moon, the moon will rise as the sun sets. That means the pretty cotton-candy hues that paint the sky will make the moon more visible to the naked eye. Clouds and dust will give the moon a reddish-orange hue, resulting in a moon that looks like a giant pumpkin.
Because of a phenomenon that is known as the “moon illusion,” as the moon rises over the horizon, it will appear larger than normal.
If you want to know the best time to see the harvest moon, check your local newspaper to learn when the sun will set and the moon will rise. A quick Google search will also tell you this information.
Let’s say you’re busy tonight or you, sadly, miss the harvest moon — do you have to wait until next year? Fortunately, no! While it won’t be a full moon, you can still wait for the moon to rise tomorrow to witness a similar scene.
Ever wondered how the harvest moon got its name?
Before electricity was widespread, farmers found that moonlight was the best light source for harvesting crops at night. And thus, the full moon was named the harvest moon. (Don’t worry, we had a no-duh moment, too!)
So, if seeing a harvest moon has been on your fall bucket list, now is the time to start gathering the lawn chairs for tonight’s full moon. Don’t forget to grab some snacks — or even make time for a s’more or two!
h/t Business Insider