HARVEST MOON FACTS AND FOLKLORE By Fred Schaaf Farmer's Almanac
In 2020, the Harvest Moon rises on Thursday, October 1! But what is the Harvest Moon and why is it so special? Learn more—and shine on, Harvest Moon!
WHEN IS THE HARVEST MOON?
This year, the brilliant Harvest Moon will appear in the evening of Thursday, October 1, reaching peak illumination at 5:05 P.M. EDT.
One thing that sets the Harvest Moon apart from other full Moon names is that it’s not associated with a specific month, as the others are. Instead, the Harvest Moon relates to the timing of the autumnal equinox (September 22, 2020), with the full Moon that occurs nearest to the equinox being the one to take on the name “Harvest Moon.” This means that the Harvest Moon can occur in either September or October, depending on how the lunar cycle lines up with the Gregorian calendar.
WHY IS IT CALLED THE HARVEST MOON?
For several evenings, the moonrise comes soon after sunset. This results in an abundance of bright moonlight early in the evening, which was a traditional aide to farmers and crews harvesting their summer-grown crops. Hence, it’s called the “Harvest” Moon!
WHAT MAKES THE HARVEST MOON DIFFERENT FROM OTHER FULL MOONS?
There are just a little over 12 complete Moon cycles every year, on average (there being about 29.53 days in a synodic month). The Harvest Moon isn’t like the other Moons. Usually, throughout the year, the Moon rises an average of about 50 minutes later each day. But near the autumnal equinox, the difference is only 30 minutes.
Additionally, the Full Harvest Moon rises at sunset and then will rise very near sunset for several nights in a row because the difference is at a yearly minimum. It may almost seem as if there are full Moons multiple nights in a row!
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE HARVEST MOON
link: Farmer's Almanac