Image at top is 2016’s Hunter’s Moon from Kurt Zeppetello in Monroe, Connecticut. He said it looked like this to the eye, but, to get the photo to come out as he wanted, he combined a short exposure with a longer exposure.
Tonight – November 3, 2017 – the full Hunter’s Moon will grace North American skies once more. Hunter’s Moon is the name for the full moon that immediately follows the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. In 2017, the Northern Hemisphere’s Harvest Moon fell on October 5, nearly 13 days after the September 22 equinox. So it’s a late Hunter’s Moon this year for the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, November 4 is about the latest possible date for a full Hunter’s Moon.
Coincidently, it’s also the 2nd-largest full moon of 2017. As seen from around the world, this full moon will parade across the sky from dusk until dawn. Full moon is November 3 or 4, depending on the location of your clock and calendar. The moon will reach the crest of its full phase on November 4, 2017 at precisely 5:23 UTC. At North American time zones, that translates to November 4 at 2:23 a.m. ADT, 1:23 a.m. EDT, 12:23 a.m. CDT – and on Friday, November 3 at 11:23 p.m. MST, 10:23 p.m. PST and 9:23 p.m. AKDT. Click here to translate to your time zone.
A Hunter’s Moon has special characteristics; the time between sunset and each night’s successive moonrise is noticeably short). Those characteristics can be seen by Northern Hemisphere full moon-watchers this weekend, although the effect is mitigated this year, due to the late date of this year’s full Hunter’s Moon.
Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere has a full moon with these same characteristics every April or May. The Southern Hemisphere will see its next full Harvest Moon on March 31, 2018, and its next full Hunter’s Moon on April 30, 2018. And, right now, in the Southern Hemisphere, the time between sunset and each night’s successive moonrise is noticeably long.
Thus, for Northern Hemisphere dwellers this month (and Southern Hemisphere dwellers in April and May), the lamp of the Harvest and Hunter’s Moons helps to compensate for the waning autumn daylight.
Bottom line: As the full moon after the Harvest Moon, the November 3-4, 2017 full moon bears the Hunter’s Moon name for us in the Northern Hemisphere.
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky's popular Tonight pages since 2004. He's a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.