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When to see October’s full moon and why it’s called Hunter’s Moon

The next full moon is due to arrive this week and will be visible from Monday night into Thursday night, according to NASA.

The official time that the full moon will occur will be 10:57 a.m. EDT on October 20, according to Gordon Johnston, skywatching blogger for the space agency—but the moon will still appear full for a day or so before and after this.

The name for the moon in October is usually the Hunter’s Moon, though it may also be called the Harvest Moon every few years depending on when the September equinox occurs, The Old Farmer’s Almanac states.

The Hunter’s Moon always follows the Harvest Moon, so it can occur in either October or November.

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which lists monthly moon names from early Native American, Colonial American and European folklore, the Hunter’s Moon gets its name from the time of year in which people would go out to hunt for animals in preparation for the winter ahead.

Many traditional full moon names are linked to natural patterns. One alternative name for the moon in October is the Falling Leaves Moon, thought to be a term from the Anishinaabe peoples, The Old Farmer’s Almanac states. It highlights the transition from summer to fall.

The October full moon also has historical significance in the traditional Hindu calendar, Johnston states, as it marks the end of the month of Ashvin. For Buddhists, it marks the end of Vassa, the three-month fasting period for monks.

Moons aside, there are some other celestial events happening in the coming weeks. Saturday, November 6 will be the last day of Daylight Saving Time, and sunrise will be at around 7:41 a.m. EDT—the latest sunrise of the year.

On the day afterwards, the sun will rise at around 6:42 a.m. EST with sunset occurring just after 5 p.m.

Observing Jupiter and Saturn

In addition, there should be some good evenings for observing the planets of Jupiter and Saturn, especially for people who own a backyard telescope, Johnston notes. Both planets were at their brightest for the year in August, but should still be relatively bright.

The reason the moon appears full sometimes is because the moon is always slowly circling the Earth. It takes around 27 days to fully orbit our planet.

When the Earth is directly between the sun and the moon, this is when we see a full moon because the sun’s light is reflecting back off of the moon towards us. The moon looks dark (or invisible) when the moon is between the Earth and the sun, and the sun’s light is reflected off the side of the moon facing away from us.

A file photo of a full moon. The moon’s shape appears to change due to its movement around the Earth and how it reflects sunlight back to us.
seaonweb/Getty

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