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In skylore, every full moon has many names, and most are tied to the months of the year. But some moons are tied to seasons, such as the Harvest and Hunter’s Moons. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. The Hunter’s Moon is the full moon after the Harvest Moon. For us in the Northern Hemisphere, the 2013 autumnal equinox came on September 22. The September 19 full moon was the Northern Hemisphere’s Harvest Moon. So the full moon on October 18-19 is the Northern Hemisphere’s Hunter’s Moon. This Hunter’s moon will undergo an eclipse.
Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere, the October 18-19 full moon is the first full moon of spring.
The precise time of the October full moon is Friday, October 18 at 23:38 UTC. At our North and South American time zones, that places the precise time of full moon on October 18. It’ll be 7:38 p.m. EDT, 6:38 p.m CDT, 5:38 p.m. MDT or 4:38 p.m. PDT. Meanwhile, this full moon will fall in the middle of the night for Europe and West Africa, and in early morning on October 19 according to clocks in Asia.
Click the links below to learn more about the 2013 Hunter’s Moon.
When should I look for the Hunter’s Moon? If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, look for the moon to be bright and full-looking for several nights around October 18, 19 and 20. Around all of these nights, you’ll see a bright round moon in your sky, rising around the time of sunset, highest in the middle of the night. This procession of moonlit nights is what characterizes a Hunter’s Moon.
Want to know the time of moonrise in your location? My favorite source of that information is this Custom Sunrise Sunset Calendar. Once you get to that page, be sure to click the box for ‘moon phases’ and ‘moonrise and moonset times.’
What makes a Hunter’s Moon special? Hunter’s Moon is just a name. It’s the name for the full moon after the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Harvest Moon sometimes falls in September and sometimes falls in October. So the Hunter’s Moon sometimes falls in October and sometimes in November.
But the Hunter’s Moon is also more than just a name. Nature is particularly cooperative around the time of the autumn equinox to make the full moonrises unique around this time.
Here’s what happens. On average, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each day. But when a full moon happens close to the autumnal equinox – either a Harvest or a Hunter’s Moon – the moon (at mid-temperate latitudes) rises only about 30 to 35 minutes later daily for several days before and after the full moon.
Why? The reason is that the ecliptic – or the moon’s orbital path – makes a narrow angle with the evening horizon around the time of the autumn equinox. The narrow angle of the ecliptic results in a shorter-than-usual rising time between successive moonrises around the full Hunter’s Moon.
These early evening moonrises are what make every Hunter’s Moon special. Every full moon rises around sunset. After the full Hunter’s Moon, you’ll see the moon ascending in the east relatively soon after sunset for a few days in a row at northerly latitudes.
Is the Hunter’s Moon bigger, or brighter or more colorful? The Hunter’s Moon is just an ordinary full moon. It isn’t really bigger or brighter or more colorful than any other full moon. But you might think that it is. Why?
It’s true that, in some months, the full moon is closer to us in orbit than others and so truly appears bigger. But the distance of the full moon depends on where the moon is in its orbit. There’s no correlation between each year’s Harvest or Hunter’s Moon and the moon’s location in orbit (the actual full moon size). It’s different every year. The 2013 Hunter’s Moon is pretty close to an average-sized full moon. The biggest full moon for 2013 fell in June. Nowadays, people call these close full moons a supermoon.
Still, you might think the Hunter’s Moon looks bigger or brighter or more orange. That’s because the Hunter’s Moon has \ a powerful mystique. Many people look for it shortly after sunset around the time of full moon. After sunset around any full moon, the moon will always be near the horizon. It’ll just have risen. It’s the location of the moon near the horizon that causes the Hunter’s Moon – or any full moon – to look big and orange in color.
The orange color of a moon near the horizon is a true physical effect. It stems from the fact that – when you look toward the horizon – you are looking through a greater thickness of Earth’s atmosphere than when you gaze up and overhead. The atmosphere scatters blue light – that’s why the sky looks blue. The greater thickness of atmosphere in the direction of a horizon scatters blue light most effectively, but it lets red light pass through to your eyes. So a moon near the horizon takes on a yellow or orange or reddish hue.
The bigger-than-usual size of a moon seen near the horizon is something else entirely. It’s a trick that your eyes are playing – an illusion – called the Moon Illusion. You can find lengthy explanations of the Moon Illusion by googling those words yourself.
The 2013 Hunter’s Moon undergoes a lunar eclipse. There will be a subtle kind of lunar eclipse on the night of the 2013 Hunter’s Moon. For the continental U.S., as the moon rises in the east at dusk on Friday, October 18, the lunar disk will be partially covered over by the Earth’s faint penumbral shadow. That does not make this a very easy-to-observe eclipse for us in the U.S. It’s possible you won’t notice any shading at all on the moon’s surface at all.
Europe and Africa will be in a better position to see the subtle penumbral eclipse because it takes place at late night (instead of evening or morning twilight). For the most of Asia, the moon will be in eclipse as its sets at sunrise tomorrow (Saturday, October 19).
Be forewarned. The moon does not dip into the Earth’s dark umbral shadow during this eclipse. At no time will it appear as if a dark bite has been taken from the moon. At best, you might notice a slight shading of the moon’s southern limb.
The shorter-than-usual time between moonrises around the full Harvest and Hunter’s Moons means no long period of darkness between sunset and moonrise for days in succession. In the days before tractor lights, the lamp of the Harvest Moon helped farmers to gather their crops, despite the diminishing daylight hours. As the sun’s light faded in the west, the moon would soon rise in the east to illuminate the fields throughout the night. A month later, after the harvest was done, the full Hunter’s Moon was said to illuminate the prey of hunters, scooting along in the stubble left behind in the fields.
Who named the Harvest and Hunter’s Moon? Those names probably sprang to the lips of farmers and others throughout the Northern Hemisphere, on autumn evenings, at times of the full moon.
When is the Southern Hemisphere’s Hunter’s Moon? For the Southern Hemisphere, the autumn equinox falls in March. So the Southern Hemisphere always has full moons with the same characteristics as our Harvest and Hunter’s Moons – rising shortly after sunset for several nights in a row – in March, April or May.
Bottom line: The Hunter’s Moon for the Northern Hemisphere in 2013 comes on the night of October 18-19. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, which in 2013 comes on September 22. The Hunter’s Moon is the full moon after the Harvest Moon. There will be a subtle kind of eclipse – called a penumbral eclipse – on the night of the 2013 Hunter’s Moon. Learn the lore of the Hunter’s Moon – and what to look for – here.