The harvest moon comes up just before the start of Fall.
Get ready to howl.
A stunning “harvest” moon will rise in the eastern sky on the evening of Friday the 13th, and the nearly full moon will be visible each night through the weekend, barring pesky clouds.
(Although the official moment of the full moon is actually 12:33 a.m. EDT on Saturday the 14th, it will still look plenty full throughout Friday evening, EarthSky said.)
It’s quite rare for a full moon to appear on Friday the 13th. It most recently occurred on Oct. 13, 2000, and won’t again until Aug. 13, 2049, the Farmers Almanac reported.
What’s a harvest moon?
The harvest moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, the beginning of fall, which this year is Sept. 23. It’s different from other full moons because it rises at roughly the same time for several nights running, giving more light.
Why the “harvest” moon nickname?
“In the days before tractors with headlights, having moonlight to work by was crucial to getting the harvest in quickly before rain caused it to rot,” according to Alan MacRobert, an editor at Sky &Telescope magazine.
Many crops ripen all at once in late summer and early autumn, so farmers found themselves extremely busy at this time of year, according to NASA. They had to work after sundown. Moonlight became an essential part of farming and, thus, the harvest moon was born.
It’s a ‘micromoon,’ too!
This month’s full moon is also an unusually small full moon: On Friday, the moon reaches “apogee,” the farthest point in its orbit around Earth, hence the “micromoon” nickname, Astronomy magazine reports. On Friday, it’s 252,511 miles from Earth’s center.
At its apogee, the full moon will appear 14% smaller to people on Earth than when the moon is at its closest, making it a micromoon, HuffPost reported. This is the opposite effect of the famed “supermoon,” when the moon is as close as it can get to Earth.
So, does a full moon affect human behavior?
If you’re feeling rather squirrelly Friday night, blame the combination of triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13) and the lunar effect, the idea that there’s some correlation between moon cycles and human behavior. In fact, the full moon has been associated with strange or insane behavior, including suicide, sleepwalking and violence, AccuWeather reports.
On a calmer note, take a listen to this catchy pop standard from the early 1930s about the shining harvest moon:
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