Deputy Group Editor
1:00 AM 29th September 2023
Will The Harvest Moon Be Orange?
Image by Anja from Pixabay
We have been fortunate this year in having four supermoons and also a Blue Moon. The last supermoon of 2023 will rise on Friday 29 September. This will be the Harvest Moon. The moon will also be joined in the sky by Jupiter and Saturn, two of our largest planets and with the smallest which is Mercury.
The full moon appears orange when it is nearer the horizon. This is because we see through the maximum thickness of the earth's atmosphere which absorbs blue light and transmits red light.
Different types of moons
Blue Moon – when a full moon occurs twice in the same month
Harvest Moon – this is around the autumnal equinox when farmers do most of their harvesting
Supermoon – Supermoons are said to appear 14% bigger and 30% brighter than usual.
Blood Moon – occurs during a total lunar eclipse
Why a Harvest Moon?
Image by Free Fun Art from Pixabay
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.
Supermoons in 2023
3 July - Buck Moon
1 August - Sturgeon Moon
30/31 August - Blue Moon
29 September - Harvest Moon
Why a supermoon?
Image by Cristian Ferronato from Pixabay
A supermoon is when you look up at the night sky and the full moon looks so close you feel as if you could almost touch it, although sometimes the difference is hard to spot with the naked eye.
This is called a moon illusion as the full moon appears much larger when it rises behind a distant object on the horizon.
When the moon is closest to the earth a supermoon occurs. A supermoon will appear 14% larger and 30% brighter than usual. A supermoon looks especially large when rising and setting.
The moon will be 30,000 miles closer than usual. It sounds a lot, but the average distance between the earth and moon is 238,900 miles, so it’s not that huge a difference.
If you go outside on the night of a full supermoon you should actually notice that it is exceptionally bright.
Full moons in 2023
Why a full moon?
6 January - Wolf moon
5 February - Snow moon
7 March - Worm moon
6 April - Pink moon
5 May - Flower moon
3 June - Strawberry moon
3 July - Buck moon (supermoon)
1 August - Sturgeon moon (supermoon)
30/31 August - Blue moon (supermoon)
29 September - Harvest moon (supermoon)
28 October - Hunter's moon
27 November - Beaver moon
26 December - Cold moon
photo by Rob Harris
Full moons occur every 29.5 days or so as the moon moves to the side of Earth directly opposite the sun, reflecting the sun's rays off its full face and appearing as a brilliant, perfectly circular disk.
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.
Tips for seeing a full moon
What is the origin of the moon names?
Moons rise in the east and set in the west
If viewing from inside your house it is best to turn off lights so as to view the night sky
If outside it is best to go somewhere high so you can see the moon rise above the horizon
Viewing outside is the best and away from street lights and light pollution
The 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.
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 and reflects the landscape around us.
It is said that they were the names given by Native American tribes and included into our modern calendar. However the full moon names we now use also have Anglo-Saxon and Germanic roots.
Some interesting moon facts:
Can a full moon affect your sleep?
The moon's diameter is 2,160 miles
The sun and moon are not the same size
The moon's surface is dark
The moon has quakes
There is water on the moon
The moon has a very thin atmosphere
A person would weigh less on the moon
The dark side of the moon is a myth
We only see the near side of the moon, the other side is the far side
Image by Dmytro from Pixabay
Because the moon affects the tides, it is often said that full moons can also affect us. Issues with our immune system can be caused by lack of sleep or disturbed sleep. Some people find falling asleep harder during a full moon along with less time spent in a deep sleep. This lack of sleep can sometimes cause people to have worse headaches often called 'moon migraines'.
The next full moon will rise on Saturday 28 October and is the Hunter's Moon