Enjoy a Real Harvest Moon Tonight!

"But now it's gettin' late

And the moon is climbin' high.

I want to celebrate

See it shinin' in your eye." -Neil Young

The full Moon, beautiful as it is, isn't really all that rare!

Once every 29-30 days, the Moon returns to a completely full phase, where the entire "day side" of the Moon (the side lit up by the Sun) faces Earth.

In fact, our word "month" is named after the Moon, and -- unsurprisingly -- each of our 12 months has a special name for its full Moon. And traditionally, September's Moon, which typically (but not always) is the Moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), is known as the Harvest Moon.

Why Harvest Moon? Because having a bright, full Moon overhead means that you'll have enough light to harvest during the night as well as during the day!

(Incidentally, at the time of this writing, wikipedia offers Warren Moon as an alternate name for the Harvest Moon, which seems unlikely.)

But tonight is special. Yes, the Moon is 100% full right now, and the full Moon is always a gorgeous sight. But late last night was also the Autumnal Equinox! The equinox, when every single location on Earth receives 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of night, happens right around September 22nd/23rd every year.

But the equinox and the full Moon coincide only -- on average -- once every nineteen years! The last time they did was 1991, and the next time they will is 2029.

But there is an Autumnal Equinox Full Moon tonight! (For some of you, that means right now!) There's always so much interesting history to learn about the Moon and how we view it from Earth, and learning about it makes me appreciate the Moon just a little bit more each time I look at it.

So enjoy your equinox and your full Moon tonight, and to the few of you who need the full Moon to harvest your crops, there's no better night to get started than this one!


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An additional bit of magic is that as the Sun sets the Moon rises, and for a brief while both are visible together. I experienced this one evening riding my motorcycle due S down the 395 highway in California, across the Mojave Desert. Sun in right eye, Moon in left eye, and since I have 110 deg peripheral vision, both were clear simultaneously. Quite a transcendent moment.

And of course, since I wanted to get a shot of the full Moon with Jupiter close by, it was also cloudy up here in the Pac NW.

By gray Gaffer (not verified) on 23 Sep 2010 #permalink

Last night and again tonight, but not as obvious, we had what some refer to as a "Super Harvest Moon" when Jupiter is in the night sky near the moon. How often that happens during the time of the Autumnal Equinox is a good question.

By George Weber (not verified) on 23 Sep 2010 #permalink

The celestial bodies clearly regulate our weather: We got rain both during the Perseid meteor shower and the full Harvest Moon! Not much astronomy being done here...

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 23 Sep 2010 #permalink

So what are the other 11 full moons called?

"when every single location on Earth receives 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of night"

Even at the poles?

Typical Yanks. if you ask me, First to the party, and the last ones to stop moaning. Time to STOP messing around and grow a pair of cojones, why don't you?
Quick fire round:

What's brown and sticky? A stick!
What never goes down well with Onions? Sausages?
What is a 'Blair'? A total fuckin' mess, if you ask me.

I did see the sun come up that day and that night, I noticed the harvest moon coing up over the hills of North San Diego County. It was remarkably close to the same spot where the sun came up.

I've wondered if it was a coincidence or a yearly event: that on the Equinox sun and moon rise at the same spot.

Anyone know?

How come the Harvest moon only comes every 19 years?

The "harvest moon" is considered to be the full moon that falls closest to the first day of autumn. This year, the full moon that occurs on Sept. 23 is closer Post-Gazette 2010-09 . and board members will be on hand to answer Hear highlights from the upcoming 2010 to Plimoth Plantation for âUnder the Harvest Moonâ from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23.Not since Sept.

I found this information interesting to learn of the different names of the monthly full moons. I went on to search their names and I was specifically interested in more information on the "Hunter's Moon". Because of my mutiple experiences with water fowl/bird hunting, I pay close attention to the daylight hours and appreciate the full moon's glow to help me set up before sunrise. So, the Hunter's Moon comes in October, when my hunting is in full swing, and I am not the only one to benefit from it's early morning glow (don't want to scare the birds away with a flashlight, now do I?)

This is really helpful! Thanks! :)

By Queen Sebias (not verified) on 06 Oct 2014 #permalink