Full Moons have a poetic roll call of names, from Wolf Moon to Rose Moon to Honey Moon. But none is more evocative than tonight's full Moon: the Harvest Moon. It's the full Moon that's closest to the autumnal equinox, which is coming up in about a week.
For the farmers of yore, no full Moon was more welcome than this one. Its brilliant glow lit up the fields, allowing farmers to gather their crops well into the night.
And it was especially helpful at high latitudes, because it rises at about the same time each night for several nights in a row.
Over the course of a year, the Moon rises about 48 minutes later each night. But that's just an average. Depending on the precise geometry, the actual interval can range from a few minutes to well over an hour.
At this time of year, as you go farther north, the interval between rising times gets smaller and smaller. From the latitude of Seattle, for example, the Moon rises only about 20 minutes later for each of the next few nights. And from even farther north -- from around Anchorage, for example -- it rises a minute or two earlier. That's a lot of extra moonlight to illuminate the fields. The Moon will make up the time around new Moon, when it'll rise almost an hour and a half later each night.
Look for the Harvest Moon climbing skyward around sunset and scooting low across the south during the night. And if you miss it tonight, just tune in same time, same spot tomorrow night.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2008
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