What better way to ring in the spirit of the fall season than with a full moon on Friday the 13th?
Although the official first day of fall isn’t until Sept. 23, later this week a rare Harvest Moon will appear across the United States on Friday, Sept. 13 and into the early hours of Saturday, Sept. 14.
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Harvest Moon is a full moon that appears nearest to the start of fall or the autumnal equinox, so it typically coincides with the September full moon — however, it can occasionally occur around the October full moon instead.
What makes the Harvest Moon special is that a typical moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but the Harvest Moon is only 30 minutes later than the day before. This means that for several days after the initial appearance of the Harvest Moon, moonrise will come soon after sunset and this creates more dramatic moonlight in the early evenings.
Historically, this was a big help to farmers who were harvesting their summer crops ahead of the fall season, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.
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Once the moon reaches its last quarter in the new cycle, it will be back to the typical 50-minute delay.
This year, the Harvest Moon will reach its peak at 12:33 a.m. ET on Sept. 14 for everyone on the East Coast. For those in Central, Mountain or Pacific time zones, the full moon will appear soon after sunset on Sept. 13.
According to Newsweek, a Friday the 13th full moon appearance is a rare one, and won’t happen again until Aug. 13, 2049. The last full moon to land on Friday the 13th was on October 13, 2000.
Superstitions about the date Friday the 13th, are rooted in Christianity, according to National Geographic. The thirteenth guest at the Last Supper was the apostle Judas, who betrayed Jesus, and Jesus’s crucifixion took place on a Friday, also known as “hangman’s day.”
There’s also the theory that 13 gets a bad rep for coming after the “complete” number twelve — twelve months in a year, twelve signs in the zodiac, etc. — a numerologist explained to Nat Geo. A folklore historian also noted to the outlet that, “It’s been estimated that $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day,” because people avoid making big purchases or risky financial moves.
In modern times, the Friday the 13th horror movies have helped uphold the date’s scary associations. And many skyscrapers still avoid labeling a 13th floor, instead skipping from 12 to 14.