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Lancashire Times
A Voice of the North
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Jan Harris
Assistant Editor
7:00 AM 30th September 2020

Shine On Harvest Moon!

On Thursday 1 October the Harvest Moon rose and was visible in our night skies for a few days.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay
Image by David Mark from Pixabay
Why a Harvest Moon?

The term ‘harvest moon’ refers to the full, bright moon that is closest to the autumnal equinox or the start of autumn. The name is from the time before electricity, when farmers depended on the moon's light to harvest their crops late into the night.

Most years the September full moon is the Harvest moon but every three years it is in the month of October. When the Harvest moon falls in the month of October it means that September’s full moon can use its traditional name of Corn Moon.

photo by Sandy Auriene Sullivan
photo by Sandy Auriene Sullivan
As September’s full moon was at the beginning of the month and was the last full moon of the summer, the October full moon takes on the name of Harvest moon as it falls nearest to the autumnal equinox (22 or 23 September).

Why two full moons in one month?

The month of October in 2020 will actually have two full moons, the Harvest moon on the 1 October and a Blue moon on the 31 October, which will be a rare Halloween Blue Moon.

Why a full moon?

A full moon occurs when the moon's earth-facing side is completely illuminated by the sun. Scientists say that when you see the moon looking really large as it rises in the sky your brain is actually playing a trick on you.

There are many reasons as to why this is, but the main theory is that when the moon is low on the horizon it can be compared to earthly things, like buildings and trees, and this is why it seems huge.

Every month of the year there is a full moon which illuminates the sky, each of which is given a different name.

Dates and names of full moons 2020

January 10 - Wolf Moon
photo by Rob Harris
photo by Rob Harris
February 9 - Snow Moon
March 9 - Worm Moon
April 7 - Pink Moon
May 7 - Flower Moon
June 5 - Strawberry Moon
July 5 - Buck Moon
August 3 - Sturgeon Moon
September 2 - Corn Moon
October 1 - Harvest Moon
October 31 - Blue Moon
November 30 - Beaver Moon
December 29 - Cold Moon

There are a total of 12 full moon phases during the annual lunar cycle plus the occasional Blue Moon and each full moon has a unique name.

The traditional names given to the full moons during the year are derived from the North American traditions. Many of these ancient moon names have been given based on the behaviour of the plants, animals, or weather during that month.

However the full moon names we now use also have Anglo-Saxon and Germanic roots.

The next full moon will rise on 31 October and will be a rare Halloween Blue Moon.