Harvest Moon and Autumn

Harvest Moon by Debbie Reed

From NASA: For the first time in almost 20 years, northern autumn began on the night of a full Moon. The coincidence sets the stage for a “Super Harvest Moon” and a must-see sky show to mark the change of seasons.

The action began at sunset on Sept 22nd, the last day of northern summer. As the sun sank in the west, bringing the season to a close, the full Harvest Moon rose in the east, heralding the start of fall. The two sources of light mixed together to create a kind of 360-degree, summer-autumn twilight glow that is only seen on rare occasions.

The Harvest Moon gets its name from agriculture. In the days before electric lights, farmers depended on bright moonlight to extend the workday beyond sunset. 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.

This one would be extra welcome because it is extra “Harvesty.”
Usually, the Harvest Moon arrives a few days to weeks before or after the beginning of fall. It’s close, but not a perfect match. The Harvest Moon of 2010, however, reaches maximum illumination a mere six hours after the equinox. This has led some astronomers to call it the “Harvestest Moon” or a “Super Harvest Moon.” There hasn’t been a comparable coincidence since Sept 23, 1991, when the difference was about 10 hours, and it won’t happen again until the year 2029.

A Super Harvest Moon, a rare twilight glow, a midnight conjunction—rarely does autumn begin with such celestial fanfare.

And by the way, I am interested in publishing a few fall photos from my readers. They must be taken in Big Sur. Send them to me as an attachment to an email only, please, to: kwnovoa@mac.com

3 thoughts on “Harvest Moon and Autumn

  1. I did not know all of this about the harvest moon. The light is different in fall and the moon is beautiful and I have come to know both of those to be the waning of the warm nights and the onset of the cool ones, when everything begins to go quiet. Thanks for this post and lovely picture Debbie!

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