Have you seen Harvest Moon?
Once one of the most popular full moons of the calendar year, the Harvest Moon for September was best viewed at moonrise on the evening of Saturday, September 10, 2022.
For some brilliant orange orb appearances in the east at dusk, it was tinged with melancholy a few days after the second delay in a week of NASA’s Artemis I mission to the moon. This delay can be long.
The full moon is the natural satellite’s phase in space when it is fully illuminated by the sun from our viewpoint on Earth. The last full moon of the summer season in the northern hemisphere, Harvest Moon rose in the east just after sunset, stayed bright all night and set in the west near sunrise.
Harvest Moon is one of the most popular full moons of the year, probably because its name is used in the Northern Hemisphere where crops are harvested at this time of year.
The Harvest Moon is always the closest full moon to the autumnal equinox, which will occur at 01:04 UTC on September 23, 2022. It marks the point at which the midday sun is directly above the equator, giving every location on the planet 12 hours of light Daylight and 12 hours of darkness.
What was unique about this weekend’s Harvest Moon was that it shone less than 3 degrees from Neptune, allowing those with binoculars to try to take a look at the eighth planet from the sun.
Tonight – Sunday, September 11, 2022 – look east an hour after sunset tonight, and see a 96% lit luminous moon about 4 degrees below ultra-bright Jupiter. The giant planet will reach its annual “opposition” in a few weeks, which is when it shines at its brightest this year.
Although the brightness of the moon wanes and disappears, it is always orange as it rises and sets. This goes back to Raleigh Dispersion. Long-wavelength red light travels through Earth’s atmosphere more easily than short-wavelength blue light, which collides with more particles and is scattered.
So a rising moon looks orange because you see it through a lot of the atmosphere – for the same reason that sunsets look reddish.
The next full moon is the “hunter’s moon” on Sunday, October 9, 2022. Then it is the “beaver moon” on Monday, November 8, 2022. This full moon will be swept into the Earth’s shadow in space causing a total lunar eclipse. The full moon will turn reddish for 84 minutes.
You don’t need any special equipment to see the full moon – your naked eyes are perfect. However, if you have a pair of binoculars, have them ready for an amazing close-up. You’ll see it more easily if you get to a high place, or on a beach with a clear view of the horizon.
I wish you a clear sky and wide eyes.