Characteristics of the Harvest Moon

* Why it is called the Harvest Moon *

Long ago, before calendars, people used the full moons to tell the months in the year. Each month has a full moon and historically, farmers used the full moons to plant, harvest, fishing, hunting, and clear the spent crops. The moon naming was the farmers’ calendar. The names of the full moons are, beginning in January, the Wolf Moon, the Snow Moon, Worm Moon, Pink Moon, Flower Moon, Strawberry Moon, Buck Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Corn Moon, Harvest Moon, Beaver Moon and Cold Moon.

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* The Harvest Moon Characteristics *

>The Harvest Moon will rise on September 22 September and 23, this year 2010.

>It is special because Nature’s cooperation makes the moon unique. The path of the sun, moon and planets (ecliptic pattern) are at a narrow angle and causes a shorter rising time between each moonrise.

>The autumnal equinox is the time when the earth is not tilted and the sun crosses the earth’s equator. It is the official first day of fall.

>Jupiter will be very close to earth and can be seen with the naked eye. Jupiter will not be this close again until 2022.

>Harvest Moon rises nearly the same time each night – 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S. 10 to 20 minutes in Canada and Europe. Normally moons rise 50 minutes later each night.

>Farmers are able to harvest their crops late in the night because the Harvest Moon is so bright.

* Physical Characteristics of the Harvest Moon – Or, Optical Illusions Concerning the Moon *

+ The moon looks huge on the horizon. In one of many theories of this phenomenon, it is because it is seen relative to other objects that are far away. For example, trees, mountains and ocean on the horizon makes the comparison of size larger than it is. The moon is always the same size.

+ The Harvest Moon appears orange. On the horizon, as you stare at the rising moon, you are looking through Earth’s atmosphere. The atmosphere scatters the blue light and the thick atmosphere lets the red light pass through. As a result, the moon takes on a yellow, orange or even a reddish hue. It is the moon most used during Halloween to show the witch crossing in front of it.

The Harvest Moon has a rich and colorful history. Most people see the Harvest Moon as the last full moon before Samhain (Halloween). Farmers felt it was a blessing that God saw it as a time to give light for the last of the harvest. Celebrations included corn husking, quilting, and, of course, a time for thanks giving.