On Thursday, the Harvest Moon will begin and will last through the weekend.
Harvest Moons appear larger than other full moons and have a characteristic red-orange hue. The full moon will rise at 4:06 p.m. on Thursday but will become more visible after sunset at 6:27 p.m.
The Harvest Moon falls in September or October depending on which full moon is closer to the Fall Equinox. This year’s Harvest Moon is in Oct. 1 because this will be the full moon closest to the Sept. 22 equinox.
The name Harvest Moon originated from an early Farmers’ Almanac because it provided additional light for farmers to continue harvesting their crops after sunset.
“Any full moon will look larger when it rises close to the horizon — it’s merely an optical illusion,” said Lauren Linahan, morning meteorologist at WTVM and WXTX. “The Harvest Moon looks orange due to its proximity to the Earth’s horizon.”
Linahan said starting Wednesday, there will be clear skies in the forecast that continue for the rest of the week, perfect for viewing the Harvest Moon. The best time to view the Harvest moon is Wednesday, Sept. 30, through Friday, Oct. 2, after sunset.
Linahan said what makes the moon orange has to do with the atmosphere.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
“Our atmosphere preferentially scatters blue light away from us, which means the thicker the atmosphere is, even more blue light will get scattered away, leaving the longer orange and red wavelengths behind to reach our eyes,” she said. “So, any full moon can look orange or red when it rises close to the horizon.”
Linahan said this same concept applies to sunrises and sunsets. As the sun gets closer to the horizon, it becomes more vibrant, she said.
The Church of the Spiral Tree, a Pagan group in Auburn, usually holds an event called Pagan Pride Day around the time of the Harvest Moon. It could be compared to a Thanksgiving-type feast for Pagans with numerous activities, vendors and a fundraiser.
This year, Pagan Pride Day was canceled due to concerns about COVID-19. The group said they want to keep the Pagan community and others safe and not contribute to a rise in cases in the area.
Stephen Bradford and Siryn Dolphinsong-Bradford are the leaders of The Church of the Spiral Tree and the spokespeople for Pagan matters in Auburn while the church is taking a short hiatus.
This event is about community and Bradford said this is important because “getting a bunch of Pagans together is like herding cats.”
Mabon is another Pagan holiday, centered around Celtic traditions, that celebrates the autumnal equinox.
It celebrates the bounty of the earth and the harvest of food for the winter months. This holiday takes place right before the Harvest Moon.
“Pagans follow lunar cycles and honor what the earth has to reap,” Bradford and Dolphinsong-Bradford said.
The Harvest Moon is equally as significant to Pagans as any other full moon, they said.
Dolphinsong-Bradford said the Pagan name for a Harvest Moon that occurs in October is the Hunter’s Moon.
Every other year it is called the corn moon or barley moon. Pagans make dolls out of corn during this time.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman