Harvest Moon

Image Credit: Dan Bush of Missouri Skies

Shine on, shine on harvest moon

Up in the sky,

I ain’t had no lovin’ Since January, February, June or July

Snow time ain’t no time to stay Outdoors and spoon,

So shine on, shine on harvest moon,

For me and my gal

~ Shine On Harvest Moon By Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth (1903)

Traditionally in skylore, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. In 2012, for us in the Northern Hemisphere, the autumnal equinox comes on September 22. The full moon for us in the U.S. will come on the night of September 29. That makes the September 29-30 full moon the Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon is just a name.  It’s the name for the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox. In the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll always see the Harvest Moon in either September or October.  In the Southern Hemisphere, a moon with these same characteristics always comes in March or April.

But the Harvest Moon is more.  Nature is particularly cooperative around the time of the autumn equinox to make the full moonrises unique around this time.

Here’s what happens.  On average, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each day.  But when a full moon happens close to the autumnal equinox, the moon (at mid-temperate latitudes) rises only about 30 minutes later daily for several days before and after the full Harvest moon.  Why?  The reason is that the ecliptic– or the moon’s orbital path – makes a narrow angle with the evening horizon around the time of the autumn equinox.  The narrow angle of the ecliptic results in a shorter-than-usual rising time between successive moonrises around the full Harvest Moon.the actual size of the Harvest Moon depends on the year.  The Harvest Moon has the reputation of being especially big and bright and orange.  But it isn’t really the Harvest Moon’s size or brightness that distinguishes it from other full moons.  In fact, the 2012 Harvest Moon is a touch smaller than an average-sized full moon.

Still, you might think otherwise.  That’s because the Harvest Moon has such a powerful mystique.  Many people look for it shortly after sunset around the time of full moon.  After sunset around any full moon, the moon will always be near the horizon.  It’ll just have risen.  It’s the location of the moon near the horizon that causes the Harvest Moon – or any full moon – to look big and orange in color.  

The orange color of a moon near the horizon is a true physical effect.  It stems from the fact that – when you look toward the horizon – you are looking through a greater thickness of Earth’s atmosphere than when you gaze up and overhead.  The atmosphere scatters blue light – that’s why the sky looks blue.  The greater thickness of atmosphere in the direction of a horizon scatters blue light most effectively, but it lets red light pass through to your eyes.  So a moon near the horizon takes on a yellow or orange or reddish hue.


Photo Credit: Harvest Moon By Dan Bush-

Excerpts From: earthsky.com


21 thoughts on “Harvest Moon

  1. Just seen the harvest moon here !!!! It was absolutely huge in the sky and was so well defined on its edges that it can only mean a cold night ahead. I love this time of year, it’s one of those times that reminds us that mother nature is relentless and that no matter how much we think of ourselves we are at the mercy of that unstoppable force.

    • This comment should be a post! Its that good. I am so happy you were focused on seeing yours too. To think that we are all under the same moon and stars does empower but in a different sense. I am grateful

      I too love this time of year.

      To me this is when all things tuck in for winter. (me too) I was out in my garden today and see all the summer perinnals winding down, some went to seed and spent new starts throughout the area -managing of course to mess with any sense of planning I may have had. This is one reason I have left the back gardern native and natural. Another is deer run through to water. I so am with yo,u this is the time of year to celebrate. Celebrate a perfect harvest moon~

      Thanks for adding to my thoughts ~ BB

      • You’re welcome! It’s comforting, and reassuring, to know that the same moon shines on everyone all around the world, no matter who we are, where we are, whether we are penniless and destitute or have riches beyond our wildest dreams. I find it hard not to be awed by things like that.

        Our garden is winding down now too. Most of our plants and our shrubs are green in their own way, but the odd splashes of colour are now fading and you can tell the hibernation season is nearly upon us.

        It’s a joy to share with you my friend! 🙂

        • Like you those things that are supposed to represnt “success? just do not with me. My beliefs fa;; completely at the other end of the spectrum. What matters to me is you, not your label
          I love it Pam. We are also kindred spirits and that to me is also reassurring.

          Hows gig night going? Have you chosen all he music yet? I am still riding on your coatatils with this you must know. Its a rewarding thinga and a smuch a sI am able want to celebrate you and your band.

          Under the same sun this day I send you my deep fondest Pam~

  2. Well, you’ve got my head spinning and my brain blurring, for sure–all I know is that full moons are beautiful and beastly. Praying this upcoming one will bring a Harvest of good stuff–like poetry, humor, wisdom, all that…. God bless you Big–love, sis Caddo

    • It’s just about Mother Nature painting an gold glow across the land, and painting a Monet with the bronze, golds, yellows, oranges, marroons and browns and tans..
      0 – My tears…. at my soul the beauty of it all.

      Happy Harvert & love Big sis- thanks so much for visiting

    • I am sorry you don’t, you would get some amazing photos of it. This is another reason for why I love this time of year., Mother Nature doing her own version of Monet.

      Maybe some day here the states you’ll be and see this first hand. It is pretty spectacular really/

    • Oh Ruth how awesome of you!! I mean that you sending music and this song is just too much. You just don’t know.You delighted me so. Thank you, I am smiling BIG right now listening – what a great guitarist. You Rock Ruth!!
      Of course I love Leon Redbone and had not thought of him in years. A truly wonderful gift.

      You are just wonderfuk my friend!~~

      Happy Harvest to you ^ the Farm. ~ BB

You are most welcome to share your thoughts, comments, and/or complaints here. Know though complaints are only handled on the 2nd Tuesday of the week.~ The Management

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