Science

Look up MONDAY! Harvest moon will light up the night sky on Sept. 20

‘Shine on Harvest Moon’: The full moon closest to the autumnal equinox that farmers once depended on to pick crops at night will rise Monday evening

  • A Harvest Moon will rise at 7:55pm ET on Monday, September 20
  • This is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox that falls on September 22
  • The name was given in the 1700s when farmers used the moon’s bright glow to harvest crops 


The Harvest Moon is set to light up the night sky on Monday, September 20, which will be the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox that falls on September 22 in the Northern Hemisphere. 

The autumn ‘equinox’ is the moment the sun appears to cross over the celestial equator, taken to mark the end of summer and the start of the fall season. 

This year it is the fourth full moon of the season and is set to rise at 7:55 pm ET – it will also appear full for a total of three days.

On average the moon rises 50 minutes later than sunset each day, however when a full moon occurs close to autumn equinox, the moon rises only 30 minutes after the sunset lending to its golden hue.

This moon received its name in the 1700s when farmers depended on the lunar orb’s glow to harvest crops late at night. 

The Harvest Moon is set to light up the night sky on Monday, September 20, which will be the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox that falls on September 22 in the Northern Hemisphere.  Pictured: Eastchuch in Kent on September 20, 2020

‘In the days before electric lights, farmers across the Northern Hemisphere depended on bright moonlight to extend the workday beyond sunset,’ NASA shared in a statement.

‘It was the only way they could gather their ripening crops in time for market. The full Moon closest to the autumnal equinox became ‘the Harvest Moon,’ and it was always a welcome sight.

‘The term became further entrenched in popular culture thanks to a 1903 pop tune called ‘Shine on Harvest Moon’.’

The last major full moon to grace the night sky was the Blue Moon on August 22.

This year it is the fourth full moon of the season and is set to rise at 7:55 pm ET - it will also appear full for a total of three days. The stunning first full moon of September is seen rising over beach huts at Hengistbury Head in Dorset in 2020

This year it is the fourth full moon of the season and is set to rise at 7:55 pm ET – it will also appear full for a total of three days. The stunning first full moon of September is seen rising over beach huts at Hengistbury Head in Dorset in 2020

Unfortunately, Earth’s natural satellite did not live up to its name – it will not shine a stunning blue in the night sky, rather glow a ghostly white.

The average Blue Moon only appears once every three years, but this summer saw see four full moons and the third in a season is always called a Blue Moon – the fourth is Monday’s Harvest Moon.

The first recorded use of ‘Blue Moon’ in English dates from 1528, but according to NASA, the name may come from dust in the moon’s atmosphere causing it to appear blue to those on Earth.

This specific moon was called the Sturgeon Moon by the Algonquin tribes, as it reflected the time of year when the large fish was easily caught in the Great Lakes and other major US water bodies.

It was also referred to by the Green Corn Moon by the same tribe to signify that crops were ready for harvest.

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