Harvest and Hunter Moons
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2010 September 24
Did you enjoy the moonlight last night? The Full Moon closest to autumnal equinox and the beginning of Fall is traditionally known as the Harvest Moon, rising opposite the Sun and illuminating fields at harvest time after sunset. This year's northern hemisphere autumnal equinox occurred yesterday, September 23rd, at 03:09 Universal Time. The Moon was at its full phase a mere 6 hours later -- exceptionally close for a Harvest Moon! Of course, the Moon still shines brightly through the night in surrounding days. In this picture from September 22nd, the lunar orb dominates the sky above a ruined church in Zsámbék, Hungary. Shining nearby, the brightest star is actually Jupiter, also opposite the Sun, seen here through thin clouds just left of the church wall.
2009 November 5
Illuminating the landscape all through the night of November 2nd, this week's bright Full Moon was known in the northern hemisphere as a Hunter's Moon. But this dramatic view of the shining lunar orb, from Sobreda, Portugal, was captured just a few nights earlier, on Halloween. In the spirit of the season, the image plays a little trick. The picture is actually two digital photos - one short and one long exposure. They were combined to bring out the details of the bright lunar surface and the fainter features in the dark, surrounding clouds, in a single image. Of course, you may recognize some of the spookier shapes in the clouds as having visited your neighborhood last week, along with Halloween's Moon.
2009 October 3
Scheduled to illuminate the landscape throughout the night tomorrow, October's bright Full Moon will also be called the Harvest Moon. Traditionally, the Harvest Moon is the Full Moon closest to the autumnal equinox. But in this vacation snapshot, the Full Moon could be called the "Old Faith-Full Moon". Taken on September 4, the picture combines the regularly occurring lunar phase with Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, named for its dependable erruptions. Shining on the well-known geyser's towering pillar from behind, the moonlight creates an eerie halo surrounding convoluted shapes. Faithfully, the Full Moon itself is bright enough to be seen through the dense swirling steam near the top.
2009 April 16
Clouds couldn't hide this bright Full Moon as it rose last week over the medieval castle of Tourrette-Levens near Nice, France. Exactly full on April 9 at 1456 UT, it followed the March equinox, making it the first Full Moon of spring in the north and autumn in the southern hemisphere. Known as the Easter Moon, it fixes the date for the celebration of Easter on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon of northern spring. Also called the Grass Moon or Egg Moon in the north, in the southern hemisphere, following the autumnal equinox, this Full Moon shines throughout the night as a Hunter's Moon.
2007 September 26
A Full Moon rising can be a dramatic celestial sight, and Full Moons can have many names. For example, tonight's Full Moon, the one nearest the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere, is popularly called the Harvest Moon. According to lore the name is a fitting one because farmers could work late into the night at the end of the growing season harvesting crops by moonlight. In the same traditions, the Full Moon following the Harvest Moon is the Hunter's Moon. But, recorded on a trip to the American southwest, this contribution to compelling images of moonrise is appropriately titled Saguaro Moon.
2005 September 22
This remarkable telescopic image highlights the deep orange cast of a waning gibbous Moon seen very close to the eastern horizon earlier this week, on September 19. In fact, today's equinox at 22:23 UT marks the beginning of Fall in the Northern Hemisphere and makes this view from Stuttgart, Germany an almost Autumn Moon. While the long sight-line through the atmosphere filters and reddens the moonlight, it also bends different colors of light through slightly different angles, producing noticeable red (bottom) and green (top) lunar rims. Also captured here floating just below the Moon is a thin, red mirage (inset) -- in this case, an atmospherically magnified and distorted image of the red rim. Of course, this tantalizing lunar "red flash" is related to the more commonly seen green flash of the Sun.