Look up tonight! Full Harvest Moon will peak this evening – just two days before the official start of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere

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  • The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox
  • It will rise tonight at 19:23 BST and re-set on Tuesday morning at 06:52 BST
  • The Harvest Moon rises and sets closer to sunrise and sunset than other moons
  • The name comes from the fact that farmers could use additional moonlight and longer lasting full moons to bring in harvest before the invention of electric lights.

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Just two days before the official start of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, watch this evening to enjoy the full ‘Harvest Moon’ as it lights up the night sky.

It is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox – the moment the Sun is seen crossing the celestial equator – on September 22.

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In the UK, the full moon rises tonight at 19:23 BST and sets tomorrow morning at 06:52 BST, but will appear full for the next three nights.

On average, the Moon rises 50 minutes after sunset every day.

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However, when a full moon occurs close to the autumnal equinox, the moon rises only 30 minutes after sunset, which lends its golden hue.

The September full moon was named the Harvest Moon in the 1700s, when farmers relied on the brightness of the moonlight to harvest late at night.

It is the closest full moon to the autumnal equinox, which falls on September 22, the moment the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator. Here the 95% full waxing crescent moon can be seen rising behind Lady Liberty

Glow on the Harvest Moon: What is the Equinox Moon?

The Harvest Moon is the first full moon that occurs close to the autumnal equinox, which lasts two weeks after the annual event.

It got its name because farmers are able to use moonlight to work till late night under moonlight.

Normally the full moon rises about 50 minutes after sunset and sets about 50 minutes before sunrise.

For Harvest Moon it could be as little as 20 minutes earlier or later depending on your distance to the north.

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According to NASA, farmers in the Northern Hemisphere used the light of the full moon to extend their workdays past sunset before the invention of electric lighting.

‘It was the only way they could collect their ripening crops in time for the market. The full moon closest to the autumnal equinox became the ‘Harvest Moon,’ and it was always a welcome sight,’ the US space agency explained.

The term became even deeper in popular culture thanks to a 1903 pop tune called ‘Shine on the Harvest Moon’.

The Harvest Moon can occur any time from a fortnight before the autumn equinox and is either the last full moon of summer or the first full moon of autumn.

This is the fourth full moon of the summer this year, and will peak before the equinox actually occurs, making it the summer moon.

In the Southern Hemisphere it is the fourth full moon of winter, known as the Worm Moon – the winter Harvest Moon occurs in March.

While all full moons have a name, and most come from tradition, the Harvest Moon has been implied for centuries, partly because of the special characteristics of its autumnal glow.

The Moon was at 98.8 percent on Sept. 19, seen behind the Chrysler Beebuilding here in New York — reaching 100 percent, full moon position tonight

The Moon was at 98.8 percent on Sept. 19, seen behind the Chrysler Beebuilding here in New York — reaching 100 percent, full moon position tonight

It also provides evening-til-dawn moonlight for several consecutive evenings, making harvest time easier and longer for farmers – due to the equinox rising 30 minutes after sunset instead of the usual 50 for other moons.

According to EarthSky: ‘For very high northern latitudes, there is even less time between successive moonrise.

‘The farther north you live, the greater the Harvest Moon effect. For example, in Anchorage, Alaska the moon will rise at roughly the same time for a week!’

While the Harvest Moon is not close to the average full moon, and is no different, many people see it soon after sunset, at a time when all full moons appear more orange.

TV presenter, author and world-class astronomer Mark Thompson said the best time to see a full moon is just after sunset because the gas and dust in the atmosphere will turn it a ‘terrible orange colour’.

‘To successfully capture close-ups of the Moon, a long lens is essential. Aspiring photographers should check out these expert tips canon for more advice,’ he advised.

The September full moon, known as the "Harvest Moon", hangs over Glastonbury Tor as the autumn haze gathers around.  It reaches its peak tonight at 19:23 BST

The September full moon, known as the “Harvest Moon”, hangs over Glastonbury Tor as the autumn haze gathers around. It reaches its peak tonight at 19:23 BST

The September full moon is more often than not a Harvest Moon, but if the October full moon occurs closer to the equinox than the September full moon, it will be a Harvest Moon.

This is because the Harvest Moon is always closest to the point of the equinox, or the instant of time when the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the geometric center of the Sun’s disk.

An equinox occurs twice a year, around March 20 and again around September 23 – although this year it is on September 22.

This is the moment when the center of the visible Sun is just above the equator.

Purnima names and their meanings

January: Wolf Moon Because wolves were heard more often at this time.

February: snow moon coinciding with heavy snowfall.

March: worm moon As the sun became increasingly hot, the soil and earthworms became active.

April: pink moon As it heralds the appearance of Phlox subulata or pink moss – one of the first flowers of spring.

May: flower moon Due to the abundant flowering.

June: Strawberry Moon Because it appeared when strawberries were harvested for the first time.

July: Buck Moon As it came about when the antlers of a male deer were in full growth mode.

August: sturgeon moon After the big fish which were easily caught at this time.

September: corn moon Because it was the time of corn harvest.

October: Hunter’s Moon After time to hunt in preparation for winter.

November: beaver moon Because it was time to set up the beaver trap.

December: cold moon Because the nights are the longest at this time of year.

Source: Old Farmer…

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