Yes, I admit it, I love the moon, its changing phases. Every moon is beautiful to me.
This month’s full moon is called the Harvest Moon. This is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, the beginning of fall in the Northern hemisphere. The Harvest Moon can come anywhere from two weeks before to two weeks after the autumnal equinox.
This year, the moon is full on the night of Sept. 18-19 in North America. The autumnal equinox follows on Sept. 22nd.
So, here I am, admiring the rising Harvest Moon above the changing trees. The moonflowers are opening under the moonlight. I can almost feel the seasons shifting, summer into fall. The autumn grasses are blooming, again. Yes, longer nights are coming.
A consoling thought, more time for moon-viewing….
In fact, there is more time under the Harvest Moon. While every full moon rises around sunset, and the moon rises about 50 minutes later on successive nights, it seems there are full moons night after night around the time of the Harvest Moon.
What a gift during the harvest season, but how can that possibly be?
Here’s why, according to EarthSky— “When a full moon occurs close to the autumnal equinox, the moon (at mid-temperate latitudes) rises only about 30 to 35 minutes later for several days before and after the full Harvest Moon.”
The reason is that the ecliptic–the moon’s orbital path–makes a narrow angle with the evening horizon around the time of the autumn equinox.
After the full Harvest Moon, you can see an almost-full moon rising soon after sunset for several days in a row. It’s the shortest interval between moonrises for the whole year.
So indeed, the Harvest Moons are extra special. They give us more time, and more moonlight. More moon-viewing, too!
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