The 2017 harvest moon will rise on Oct. 5, Thursday, and interest in the phenomenon continues America's fascination with celestial bodies this year.
What is the harvest moon, and what time will it appear in the sky? Here are all the details that you need to know.
The Harvest Moon: What Is It?
The harvest moon is the name given to the full moon that is closest to the autumnal equinox. It usually occurs in September, such as last year's harvest moon that rose on Sept. 16. However, this year's harvest moon will appear a month later, which happens once every three years.
It is easy to guess why the harvest moon is named as such. Back when farmers had to tend to their fields by hand as high-tech machines that can do it for them have not yet been invented, working through the night was a necessity. A bright full moon in September or October provided farmers with ample light to work in the fields, and so the name of the harvest moon was born.
When the harvest moon rises on Oct. 5, it will look very large, and it will likely be reddish-orange in color. The size is due to an optical effect named the moon illusion, which makes moons hanging low in the sky to look much larger compared to when they rise higher up. The color, meanwhile, is because of the dust and clouds in the sky.
While the harvest moon actually lasts for a few night, people who want to take a picture of the "orange moon" that is mostly associated with the harvest moon will have to do so just as it appears up in the sky on the evening of Oct. 5. The sunset will be at 6:31 p.m. ET, while the moon will rise at 6:51 p.m. ET.
Harvest Moon Follows The Great American Solar Eclipse
An October harvest moon occurs once every three years, which makes it special but not that rare. However, a few months ago, a total solar eclipse named the Great American Solar Eclipse captivated the nation. The phenomenon was highly anticipated because the last one happened almost a century ago.
However, for Americans who missed the Great American Solar Eclipse in August, the wait for the next one will not be as long. The next total solar eclipse that will occur in North America will happen on April 8, 2024, and while it will not be as big as this year's, its peak will last twice as long.