Here is the big celebrity tonight – perhaps the best-known moon of them all – the legendary Harvest Moon. The moon reached the crest of its full phase at 11:13 Universal Time on Thursday morning, September 19. That was 6:13 a.m. this morning – on September 19 – for the central U.S. Does this mean you’ve missed the Harvest Moon? Not at all – if you live at northerly latitudes!
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 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 30 to 35 minutes later for several evenings in a row. And at far northern latitudes, the Harvest Moon rises around 10 minutes later for several evenings in succession.
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!
Bottom line: On Thursday morning, September 19, for us in the U.S., the crest of the full Harvest Moon has passed. Does this mean you’ve missed the Harvest Moon? No. See a full-looking moon rise on Friday evening, too.