The harvest moon is the closest full moon to the autumnal, or September, equinox, which takes place on, or around, September 21. Look for the “moon illusion” — NASA explains that this is an optical illusion that makes the low-slung harvest moon look wider than it actually is.
Harvest moons gave early farmers extra daylight for their crops
The harvest moon is so-called because Luna would hang out close to the Earth for a few days at just about the right time for farmers to put in some overtime harvesting the ripening crops. The extra-bright moonlight can be experienced even through thunderclouds; whether you’re camping or staying at home, hop outdoors to take a look.
With a pair of binoculars or a telescope, it should be possible to pick out a few more astronomical details than usual from this harvest moon, since it’s so close to the horizon. Full moons occur when the sun and the moon are directly opposite one another.
Super harvest moons coincide with the September, or Autumn, equinox
Super Harvest Moons are those that coincide with the equinox itself; according to NASA, last year’s Super Harvest Moon was the first since 1991, and we’ll need to wait until 2029 for the next.
Whether or not the harvest moon is Super, it will certainly be super. The extra-bright harvest moonlight is uncanny and, with no loss of light between sunset and moonrise, it’s easy to imagine how those, in the days before solar panels, that bit of extra natural light helped get in supplies for the winter.
When is the full harvest moon?
2012 harvest moon:
- Full harvest moon 10:19 p.m. Universal Time September 29, 2012.
- Sunset: varies across the world
- Moonrise: varies across the world
- 2012 Autumnal or September equinox: 22 September 2012, 2:49 p.m. Universal Time
Check the Weather Underground for your specific full harvest moonrise times; look for the Astronomy tab.
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Sources: NASA; Weather Underground
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