Did you catch the Harvest Moon last week?
Leaves are falling, the days are getting colder, and thoughts are turning to winter time – it was cold on the hills last week for the volunteers. Autumn is well and truly with us and for nature lovers it is the time for the Harvest Moon.
The early Native Americans did not record time using the months of the Julian or Gregorian calendar. Instead tribes gave each full moon a nickname to keep track of the seasons and lunar months.
Most of the names relate to an activity or an event that took place at the time in each location.
Colonial Americans adopted some of the moon names and applied them to their own calendar system which is why they are still in existence today, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.
The Harvest Moon is the name given to the first full moon that takes place closest to the Autumn equinox.
This moon gave light to farmers so that they could carry on working into the night to harvest their crops before the bad weather set in.
For us in the Northern Hemisphere the Harvest Moon rose late this year. Usually it occurs before the equinox in September, but this year the Harvest Moon was actually in October. This year’s Autumnal equinox came on September 22nd, making the full moon on Thursday the 5th October the Harvest Moon, because it is the closest full moon in the calendar. The reason why the Harvest Moon sometimes occurs in October is purely down to timing. The last October Harvest Moon was in 2009 on the 4th October, and the next one occurs on 1st October in 2020.
The high pressure of last week produced cloudless night skies giving spectacular views of the moon from the Beacon Hills, unaffected by any light pollution – a dream-like sensation. The Luton flight path added to the sensory experience. The film makers working around Gallows Hill may well have captured the experience for their period drama.
Sometimes people say the moon turns a deep orange for the Harvest Moon. This effect sometimes occurs if you glimpse the moon when it is close to the horizon, which is because you are seeing it through the thickness of the Earth’s atmosphere which can cause it to change colour. When it rises up into the centre of the sky, it shines a brilliant white.