You don’t want to miss the moon this weekend.
Saturday’s full moon (September 10) also carries the title of harvest moon for those living in the northern hemisphere. The moon officially becomes full when it reaches that point in the sky opposite (180º) the sun in the sky. That moment will occur at 5:59 a.m. ET (0959 GMT) on Saturday.
Saturday’s full moon is closest to the September equinox, so this year it falls in September, although on occasion that title can be awarded to the October full moon. The 2022 version of the Harvest Moon comes unusually early, though it could happen as early as September 8 (like 2014) or as late as October 7 (like 1987).
Related: Night sky, September 2022: What you can see tonight [maps]
Many people think that the Harvest Moon stays in the night sky longer than any of the other full moons we see during the year, but that is not the case. What sets Saturday’s full moon apart from others is that farmers at the peak of the current harvest season can work late into the night under the moonlight. It rises roughly when the sun sets, but more importantly, at this time of year, instead of rising its normal average of 50 minutes later each day, the moon appears to rise at almost the same time every night
Below are some examples for ten American cities. Local moonrise times are provided for September 9th, 10th, and 11th, with the average date being that of the full harvest moon.
|Location||September 9||September 10||September 11|
|Albuquerque, NM||19:25 MDT||19:55 MDT||20:23 MDT|
|Chicago||7:16 p.m. CDT||19:41 CDT||8:05 PM CDT|
|Denver||19:24 MDT||19:51 MDT||20:16 MDT|
|Edmonton, Alberta||20:22 MDT||8:35 PM MDT||20:46 MDT|
|Houston||19:32 CDT||8:06 PM CDT||8:38 p.m. CDT|
|the angels||7:11 PM PDT||7:42 PM PDT||8:11 PM PDT|
|Miami||7:26 PM EDT||8:02 PM EDT||8:37 PM EDT|
|Montreal||7:25 PM EDT||7:47 PM EDT||8:07 PM EDT|
|New York||7:19 PM EDT||7:45 p.m. EDT||8:09 PM EDT|
|Seattle||7:47 PM PDT||8:06 PM PDT||8:24 PM PDT|
In reality, over this three-night interval for our relatively small sample, moonrise is, on average, just over 25 minutes later each night, or exactly half the normal 50 minutes. A quick study of the table shows that the night-to-night difference is greatest for locations farther south (Miami, located near 26°N latitude, sees moonrise an average of just under 36 minutes later). Meanwhile, the difference is smaller in places further north (in Edmonton, Alberta, located at 53.6ºN latitude, the average difference is only 12 minutes).
The reason for this seasonal circumstance is that the moon appears to move along the ecliptic and at this time of year when it rises, the ecliptic makes its smallest angle to the horizon for those living in the ‘northern hemisphere
In contrast, for those living in the Southern Hemisphere, the ecliptic at this time of year appears to be almost perpendicular (at an almost right angle) to the eastern horizon. As such, the difference for moonrise time exceeds the average of 50 minutes per night. In Melbourne, Australia, for example, the difference between nights is 72 minutes.
Interestingly, for those living near 60º north latitude, the moon appears to rise at the same time every night around the time of the harvest moon. And for those who live even further north, a paradox: the moon appears to be rising before! In Reykjavík, Iceland (latitude 64.2º N), for example, the moonrise times on September 9, 10, and 11 will be, respectively, 8:51 p.m., 8:43 p.m., and 8:36 p.m. . Thus, from Reykjavík, the moon will appear to rise almost eight minutes earlier each night.
You can check out our guides to the best binoculars and the best telescopes to spot the Harvest Moon. If you want to capture a good photo of the moon, check out our recommendations on the best astrophotography cameras and the best astrophotography lenses.
Editor’s note: If you take a photo of Harvest Moon and want to share it with Space.com readers, send your photos, comments, and your name and location to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joe Rao is an instructor and visiting professor in New York Hayden Planetarium (opens in a new tab). Write about astronomy for Magazine of Natural History (opens in a new tab)the Almanac of the farmers (opens in a new tab) and other publications.
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