This image above is from Greg Diesel Landscape Photography. See more of Greg’s photos here. Notice that the September 18 moon was already up in the east at sunset. The September 9 moon will rise after sunset for most of us around the globe. Why? Because, at sunset on September 9, the crest of the moon’s full phase has already happened.
The moon reached the crest of its full phase at 1:38 Universal Time this morning, September 9. However, at U.S. time zones, the moon turned precisley full on September 8, at 9:38 p.m. EDT, 8:38 p.m. CDT, 7:38 p.m. MDT or 6:38 PDT. Does this mean you’ve missed the Harvest Moon? Not at all – if you live at northerly latitudes! Look for a bright full-looking moon to shine from dusk till dawn tonight.
All of us around the globe will find tonight’s moon in the same approximate place as every full moon – in the east as the sun sets and twilight begins to wash the sky. It’s this big red Harvest Moon – ascending over the eastern horizon in the deepening dusk – that everyone writes songs about. You’ll see why if your sky is clear and you have a lovely setting for moonrise tonight.
Like any full moon, the full Harvest Moon rises around sunset and shines all night long. So what’s special about the Harvest Moon? On the average, the moon rises 50 minutes later every night. But not the Harvest Moon! At mid-northern latitudes, the Harvest Moon rises about 35 to 40 minutes later for several evenings in a row. And at far northern latitudes, the Harvest Moon rises around 15 minutes later for several evenings in succession.
If you note where the moon rises on your eastern horizon, you’ll see it rising north (to the left) of where it rose yesterday. That’s the case whether you live in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere. A moon that rises north of where it does the day before rises sooner than average (50 minutes later) at northerly latitudes, but rises later than average at temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere.
In the days before electricity, farmers counted on the lamp of the Harvest Moon to gather their crops. Making up for the autumn season’s waning daylight, the Harvest Moon faithfully provides several nights of dusk-till-dawn moonlight. This bonanza of moonlight remains the legacy of the Harvest Moon!