(WWJ) – Look up tonight to see a rare sight: the October Harvest Moon.
The majority of Harvest Moons fall in September; but this year, October’s full moon — occurring Thursday, Oct. 5 — is also the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox, or first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere. That earns it the Harvest Moon title.
According to Farmer’s Almanac, the Harvest Moon got its unique name because the full moon at the end of the growing season would help farmers work later into the night, harvesting their summer-grown crops. Sometimes the Harvest Moon is referred to the Wine Moon as it appears when grapes are plump and ready for collecting.
Another reason the Harvest Moon is so different from other full moons is that throughout the year, the moon generally rises an average of about 50 minutes later each day, according to the Almanac, but the closer to the autumnal equinox, there’s only a 30-minute difference.
And if you feel like you’re seeing it hang around all weekend, you’re not crazy. “The Full Harvest Moon rises at sunset, then will rise very near sunset for several nights in a row,” making it seem like there are “full moons multiple nights in a row,” the Almanac says.
Moon cycle charts show the October Harvest Moon has not appeared since 2009 and won’t again until 2020. Next year, we’ll be back to the more usual schedule, with the Harvest Moon occurring on September 24, just two days after the 2018 autumnal equinox. Another fun fact: When the Harvest moon falls in September it’s often referred to as the Corn Moon. [Learn more here].