Once In A Blue Moon: October Brings Both The Harvest And Hunter’s Moons

October has two full Moons this year: the full Harvest Moon on October 1 and the full Hunter’s Moon on the 31st—Halloween! Learn more about these two special full Moons.

WHEN TO SEE OCTOBER’S FULL MOONS

The first of October’s full Moons rises on Thursday, October 1, reaching peak illumination at 5:06 P.M. Eastern Time (it won’t be visible until after sunset, however). October’s second full Moon rises on Halloween—Saturday, October 31—and hits peak illumination at 10:51 A.M. Eastern Time.

Watch for the Full Harvest Moon

Being full Moons, both of these autumn Moons rise above the horizon around sunset. For several days around the time of the full Harvest Moon, the Moon rises only about 30 minutes later each night. This extra light early in the evening is what makes this time of year special, and traditionally is what gave farmers extra days for harvesting beyond sunset. Hence, the name “Harvest” Moon!

As the Moon rises from the horizon around sunset, it may appear larger and more orange—how perfect for the fall season! But don’t be fooled by the “Moon Illusion,” which makes the Moon appear bigger than it really is.

A Spooky Halloween Blue Moon

As stated above, October’s second full Moon lands on Saturday, October 31, making Halloween night extra special this year. Plus, the second full Moon in a single calendar month is often called a “Blue Moon,” giving us a spectacular (and spooky) Halloween Blue Moon!

Just how rare is a full Moon on Halloween? Find out here!

A buck carrying the full moon in his antlers.
A buck carrying the Moon in his antlers. Credit: Gallinago/Shutterstock.

THE HARVEST, THE HUNTER, AND THE EQUINOX

For decades, the Almanac has referenced the monthly full Moons with names tied to early Native American and Colonial folklore. However, both the Harvest Moon and the Hunter’s Moon are unique in that they are not related to this folklore, nor necessarily tied to a single month. Instead, they relate to an astronomical event: the autumnal equinox!

The Harvest Moon is said to be the full Moon which occurs nearest to the date of the autumnal equinox (September 22, 2020). This means that either September or October’s full Moon may take on the name “Harvest Moon” instead of its traditional name. Similarly, the Hunter’s Moon is the first full Moon to follow the Harvest Moon, meaning that it can occur in either October or November.

This year, both the Harvest Moon (October 1) and Hunter’s Moon (October 31) occur in October.

MOON PHASES FOR OCTOBER 2020

See all Moon phase dates and times (EDT) below.

Full Harvest Moon: October 1, 5:06 P.M.
Last Quarter Moon: October 9, 8:40 PM
New Moon: October 16, 3:31 P.M.
First Quarter Moon: October 23, 9:23 A.M.
Full Hunter’s Moon: October 31, 10:51 A.M.

 

WHY IS IT CALLED THE HUNTER’S MOON?

Some folks believe that this full Moon was called the Full Hunter’s Moon because it signaled the time to go hunting in preparation for winter. Since the harvesters had recently reaped the fields under the Harvest Moon, hunters could easily see the fattened deer and other animals that had come out to glean (and the foxes and wolves that had come out to prey on them).

ABOUT OCTOBER MOON NAMES

The earliest use of the term “Hunter’s Moon” cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1710. Some sources suggest that other names for the Hunter’s Moon are the Sanguine or Blood Moon, either associated with the blood from with hunting or the turning of the leaves in autumn.

Some Native American tribes, who tied the full Moon names to the season’s activities, called the full Moon the “Travel Moon” and the “Dying Grass Moon.”

Image: Moonrise over the Syr Darya river, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls 
Image: Moonrise over the Syr Darya river, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls 

In lunisolar calendars, the months change with the new Moon and full Moons fall in the middle of the lunar month. This full Moon falls near the middle of the ninth month in the Chinese calendar and Marcheshvan in the Hebrew calendar. In the Islamic calendar, the months start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon a few days after the New Moon. This full Moon is near the middle of Safar, the second month of the Islamic year.

Via moon almanac

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