When to See Peak Harvests at Peak Brightness This Month

The full moon closest to the autumnal equinox on September 22 is almost here. That means for all of you disciples of endless scarves and pumpkin spices – squeeze! – the fall has almost officially come. Let’s see why this moon is so unique and when to see it with your own eyes.

What is Harvest Moon?

The Harvest Moon behaves differently from other full moons. During the several evenings before and after its peak, due to the fact that the angle of the Moon’s orbit relative to the Earth’s horizon, the Moon rises above the horizon much faster than usual – soon after sunset.

Usually, when the moon is full, it rises at sunset and then rises about 50 minutes later each day. But in the case of the Harvest Moon in temperate latitudes, this successively increasing rise time is halved, to 20-25 minutes. (This is even shorter in northern latitudes, such as Alaska, where the moon will rise at almost the same time for a whole week.) So there will be no significant period of darkness in between for the days before and after the full moon on September 20. sunset and moonrise. The Harvest Moon will provide a rare abundance of light from dusk to dawn.

How did Harvest Moon get its name?

While we don’t know exactly where the name came from, according to EarthSky , it “probably hit the lips of farmers across the Northern Hemisphere on autumn evenings when the Harvest Moon helped reap the harvest.” It was further popularized by the 1903 song “Shine on Harvest Moon”, written by married vaudeville duo Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth (who – side note – also wrote the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”).

In the 30s and 40s, Hollywood films of the same name followed, and over a century more than two dozen songs by other artists were recorded. (Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” is the original version, if you’re wondering.)

Why is it orange?

The Harvest Moon has a reputation for being larger and more reddish orange in color than other full moons, but this is largely a misconception. The Harvest Moon is no larger than any other full moon, and its size changes every year. In fact, it was the smallest full moon of the year in 2019; in 2020, it became the second largest. This year it will be medium in size. While not necessarily closer to or larger than other full moons, it may appear larger due to its location on the horizon.

Although it takes on a burnt sienna hue, it is a result of the moon being low in the sky and not the color of the moon itself. Because of its proximity to the horizon, we look at it through a greater thickness of the Earth’s atmosphere than when it is high overhead. Dense air molecules scatter more blue light, thereby allowing more red light to pass through. The color illusion is heightened on sweltering or foggy nights.

When can you see it?

2021 Harvest Moon Peak – 7:54 PM ET September 20. Be sure to take a look at her quiet greatness, perhaps regaling your friends or family with new facts about her history, looks, and unique attributes.

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