Summer is drawing to a close in the Northern Hemisphere, and a symbol of fall hangs in the sky tonight (Sept. 18) to help drive that fact home — the Harvest Moon.

The Harvest Moon is the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox, which marks the beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere. This year, the equinox falls on Sunday (Sept. 22), and the moon reaches its full phase in North America overnight from Wednesday to Thursday (Sept. 18-19).

This full moon is called the Harvest Moon because many fruits and vegetables tend to ripen in the late summer and early fall in the Northern Hemisphere. In the days before electricity, farmers relied heavily on this moon's light, working late into the evening to harvest their crops.

As it rises for several nights in a row at or near sunset, the moon will appear larger to observers near the horizon than it does high in the sky — a much-discussed phenomenon that is sometimes called "the moon illusion."

Our minds and eyes, used to seeing distant clouds on the horizon and closer ones a few miles overhead, believe that objects on the horizon are much farther away than objects higher in the sky. Since the moon is actually not farther away on the horizon, it appears larger.

This trick of the mind is true for the moon all year round, but it's particularly pronounced with the Harvest Moon because this full moon's path around Earth creates a particularly narrow angle with the horizon. As a result, the moon rises only 30 minutes later every day around the fall equinox, far below the average of 50 minutes.

Sometimes the moon turns orange, just like a fall pumpkin, because of clouds and dust in the atmosphere close to the horizon. So the Harvest Moon may hang low and large on the horizon tonight, like a colorful lantern. (Source)

September Full Moon names from different cultures

Soaproot (Pomo).
Corn Moon (Pueblo).
Harvest moon (Hopi).
Singing Moon (Celtic).
Leaf fall Moon (Kiowa).
Ripe Moon (San Juan).
Maize Moon (Natchez).
Acorns Moon (Wishram).
Rice Moon (Anishnaabe).
Hay Cutting Moon (Yuchi).
Mulberry Moon (Choctaw).
Deer Paw Moon (Omaha).
Snow Goose Moon (Cree).
Freshness Moon (Mohawk).
Harvest Moon (Neo-Pagan).
Harvest (Colonial American).
Little Chestnut Moon (Creek).
Corn Maker Moon (Abernaki).
Drying Grass Moon (Arapaho).
Yellow Leaf Moon (Assiniboine).
Drying Grass Moon (Cheyenne).
Autumn Moon (Passamaquoddy).
Barley Moon (Mediaeval English).
Calves Hair Growth Moon (Dakota).
Yellow Leaf Moon(Taos Native American).
Nut Moon, Black Butterfly Moon (Cherokee).
Drying Grass Moon, Black Calve Moon, fScarlet Plum Moon (Sioux).
Harvest Moon, Corn Moon, Barley Moon, Fruit Moon, Dying Grass Moon (Algonquin).
Other moon names : Wine moon, Blood Moon, Sturgeon Moon

Responses to "Harvest Moon Tonight: Strange Facts About September's Full Moon"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nut Moon fits the situation tonight.

  2. Absolutely love the moon! Any moon. This is so interesting.Thank you .

  3. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed reading these facts of the harvest moon, it as very informative, and I enjoy every moon

  4. Anonymous says:

    When driving home last evening, I told my wife to look at the moon. I said it looked huge and commented how bright orange it was. My camera was not in the car but if it had been, I would've stopped and taken pictures. It appeared to me as though every minute it was changing sizes, clearly an illusion. Very cool!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I just LOVE the moon. Call me crazy, but I believe Jesus is on the moon. The astronauts never told us what they saw there did they?

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