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With the Major League Baseball playoffs cranking up in early October, perhaps it’s not surprising that Mother Nature tosses out her own slider. The Harvest Moon, which usually graces the skies of mid to late September, this year slides into early October.
The Harvest Moon is the full Moon closest to the autumnal equinox, which marks the beginning of fall. This year, the equinox took place on September 22nd. September’s full Moon occurred on the 6th — about 16 days before the equinox. This month’s full Moon, on the other hand, comes today, about 13 days after the equinox, giving October the Harvest Moon honors.
The “Harvest Moon” name seems be have been bestowed by farmers in northern Europe, who relied on its light to help them complete the harvest.
On average, the Moon rises and sets about 50 minutes later each day. At this time of year, though, the full Moon rises only a few minutes later on succeeding nights from high northern latitudes. So when the Sun sets, the rising Moon lights up the fields, allowing farmers to continue harvesting their crops.
The full Moon after the Harvest Moon is the Hunter’s Moon. It illuminates the now-bare fields, making it easier for hunters to track game. That’s not especially important today. In bygone centuries, though, it was a big help to hunters who were trying to store food for the long, dark winter. And since this year’s Harvest Moon moved into October, the Hunter’s Moon slides into November.
Script by Damond Benningfield