A Rare October Harvest Moon Will Illuminate the Sky This Week

Jake Smith
·3 mins read
Photo credit: jimkruger - Getty Images
Photo credit: jimkruger - Getty Images

From Prevention

  • This year’s Harvest Moon will peak on Thursday, October 1.

  • A Harvest Moon in October is unusual, as it typically rises in September.

  • This is the first of two full moons this month, which only happens about every three years. The next is an ultra-rare blue moon, which peaks on Halloween.

After a long, hot, weird summer, it’s finally autumn—prime time to enjoy sweater weather and pumpkin-flavored everything. As a bonus, one of the most famous (and beautiful) hallmarks of fall is on its way: the Harvest Moon, which peaks next week. Here’s how to catch a glimpse, plus an explanation of why this year’s moon is rare.

When is October 2020’s Harvest Moon?

This year’s Harvest Moon will peak at 5:05 p.m. EDT on Thursday, October 1, according to NASA. Obviously, the view won’t be best until the sun sets a few hours later and the full moon can really shine. (What’s more, it will light up near a bright-looking star this year—the red planet Mars.)

To catch the best glimpse of the Harvest Moon, limit artificial light as much as possible and try to find an unobstructed view of the sky. NASA explains that the Harvest Moon is one of the smallest full moons of the year, known as a “micro-full moon.” These are the opposite of huge-looking supermoons, or when the moon appears much larger than usual.

That said, the moon will remain close to the horizon, making it appear a little larger than it should and giving it a slight orange cast. To find out where and when the Harvest Moon will rise and set in your area, check out The Old Farmers Almanac’s moonrise calculator.

Why is it called the Harvest Moon?

The Harvest Moon gets its name from the fact that it’s the closest full moon to the autumn equinox, also known as the first day of fall (September 22 this year). Especially bright moons rise soon after sunset this time of year, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, making it much easier for farmers to harvest their summer crops by the light of the moon. The name stuck—even if the tradition hasn’t.

Why is the Harvest Moon unusual this year?

The Harvest Moon is typically associated with the month of September. That means it will be the first of two full moons in October, which occurs only about once every three years, ABC reports, making this an especially unusual month for the moon. (It’s only fitting in 2020, right?)

When is the next full moon?

We’re in for a cosmic treat this October. The next full moon, known as the Hunter’s Moon, is also a blue moon, thanks to the fact that it’s the second such event in a single month. Oh, and did we mention that it’s on October 31? That’s right: Get ready for the Blue Halloween Hunter’s Moon.

This one is slated to be even rarer than October’s Harvest Moon. ABC reports that it’s the first blue moon in the United States since 2018, plus the first time a Halloween full moon has appeared for all time zones since 1944. Spooky season, indeed.

Support from readers like you helps us do our best work. Go here to subscribe to Prevention and get 12 FREE gifts. And sign up for our FREE newsletter here for daily health, nutrition, and fitness advice.

You Might Also Like