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What You Need to Know about the Full Harvest Moon (and Eclipse)

What You Need to Know about the Full Harvest Moon (and Eclipse)

Last updated September 14, 2016

In case you haven't heard, this Friday (September 16th) is the Full Harvest Moon.

It's a beautiful event, with a giant orange moon rising up on the horizon. It's a breathtaking sight, and if you catch it right, it looks like the moon is coming down to swallow the earth. (Or at least that's what I imagine it's trying to do.)

This year, though, is going to be extra special: the full Harvest Moon will also have a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse.

What's a Harvest Moon?

A harvest moon is the full moon that's closest to the autumnal equinox (usually around September 22nd or 23rd). Typically the Harvest Moon falls in October, but when it falls in September (like this year), it's also referred to as the Full Corn Moon because traditionally the timing lands when corn is being harvested.

The Harvest Moon is special for a couple of reasons.

The Color

Harvest moon - orange

The harvest moon is known also for it's beautiful and unique orange color. Because the moon is so close to the horizon, you're seeing the moon through thickest part of the atmosphere, which absorbs blue light and transmits red light. (You can read more about the science behind the color here.)

The Size

Harvest moon dusk

The harvest moon typically looks massive, as if it's actually bigger. Fear not, the moon doesn't actually change size. It's more like an optical illusion: because the moon is very close to the horizon, it only appears to be bigger.

Bottom Line

If you have the opportunity to step outside on Friday and appreciate the moon and eclipse, you won't be sorry. You can watch a live stream of the Harvest Moon Eclipse and eclipse here as it's happening, if you have an obstructed view.

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