For the world’s Northern Hemisphere, in 2013, the night of October 18-19 brings the full Hunter’s Moon. The Hunter’s Moon is the full moon after the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon nearest the September 22 autumnal equinox. This year, the Harvest Moon came on September 19. That’s why tonight’s moon bears the name Hunter’s Moon. There’s also an eclipse on this night, but it’s so subtle you might miss it!
Meanwhile, in the Southern Hemisphere, this is their first full moon of spring. The September 22 equinox ushers in the spring equinox in the southern half of the globe.
Follow the links below to learn more about the 2013 Hunter’s Moon and the October 18-19 lunar eclipse.
But to astronomers, the moon turns full at a well-defined instant: when it’s most opposite the sun for the month.
That instant happens on October 18 at 23:38 UTC. At our U.S. time zones, that places the precise time of full moon on October 18 at 7:38 p.m. EDT, 6:38 p.m CDT, 5:38 p.m. MDT or 4:38 p.m. PDT.
Meanwhile, because of the difference in time zones, this same full moon happens around midnight (Oct. 18-19) for England and western Africa, and just before sunrise on October 19 in Asia.
Watch the October 18-19 full moon rise in the east as the sun goes down. Like any full moon, the Hunter’s Moon will shine all night long. It’ll soar highest in the sky around midnight and will set in the west around sunrise.
This full moon will undergo a subtle lunar eclipse. In fact, as the moon rises in the east at dusk (Friday, October 18) in the continental United States, the lunar disk will be partially covered over by the Earth’s faint penumbral shadow. This Hunter’s Moon does indeed undergo a penumbral lunar eclipse.
However, you may not notice any shading at all on the moon’s surface if you see the eclipse from the Americas. Even as the eclipse is happening, you’ll be seeing the moon low in the sky, peering at it through more atmosphere than when the moon is overhead. This is a very, very subtle kind of eclipse. Will it be noticeable? Maybe to photographers! We’ll hope for some good photos.
Europe and Africa will be in a better position to see the subtle penumbral eclipse because the lunar eclipse 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 will 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, the penumbral eclipse may be seen as a slight shading of the moon’s southern limb.
How is the Hunter’s Moon different from other full moons? The Hunter’s Moon always occurs in autumn. In the Northern Hemisphere, it usually falls in October, although it can come as late as early November. In the Southern Hemisphere, a full moon with Hunter’s Moon characteristics comes in April or May.
Autumn full moons – like the Hunter’s Moon or Harvest Moon – are different from other full moons. That’s because, in autumn, the ecliptic – or path of the sun, moon and planets – makes a narrow angle with the evening horizon. That fact causes several sky phenomena. For example, the location of the moonrise on your horizon, for several nights around a Northern Hemisphere autumn full moon, is noticeably farther north along the eastern horizon for several nights in succession.
It’s this northward movement of the moon along the eastern horizon at moonrise – for several days in a row, around the time of full moon – that gives the Hunter’s Moon its magic.
These more northerly moonrises assure us of earlier-than-usual moonrises around the time of full moon. On average, the moon rises 50 minutes later daily. But at mid-northern latitudes around now, the moon is rising about 30 to 35 minutes later. And farther north, the effect is even more pronounced. For instance, at latitudes close to the Arctic Circle – like at Fairbanks, Alaska – the moon actually rises around 15 to 20 minutes later for several days in a row.
Meanwhile, in the months of September, October and November as seen from the Southern Hemisphere, it’s springtime. In the spring, there is a particularly long time between successive moonrises, around the time of full moon.
Before the advent of electricity, our ancestors knew how to plan nocturnal activity around the full Hunter’s Moon. If you live sufficiently north on the globe, you can count on tonight’s Hunter’s Moon to bring early evening-till-dawn moonlight for the next several nights!
As autumn full moons, the Harvest and Hunter’s Moons show this seasonal effect, though to a lesser extent than usual around now due to an effect known as minor lunar standstill.
Bottom line: The 2013 Hunter’s Moon takes place on the night of October 18-19, 2013. In skylore, the Hunter’s Moon is the full moon after the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon closest to the September equinox. It’s characterized by a shorter-than-usual time between moonrises for several nights in a row around full moon. And you can see that, at each successive moonrise, the moon appears farther north on the horizon.