This year, the Harvest Moon will first appear on the evening of Friday 29th September, and is the closest full moon to the Autumnal Equinox.
September’s full moon is called the Harvest Moon (also known as Full Corn Moon and Barley Moon) as the Moon rises early and is particularly bright at this time of year, allowing farmers to continue harvesting into the night.
The word ‘month’ itself takes its root from the Moon, as a month was originally defined to match the cycle of the lunar phases. Some calendar months were later padded out with extra days so that 12 months would make up one complete 365 solar year.
The Harvest Moon usually occurs in September, however, due to the overlap between the Gregorian Calendar and the Lunar Cycle, every three years it appears in October.
The Moon rises at different times each night, changing by approximately 50 minutes each evening. During the nights around the Harvest Moon, however, this changes and for a few evenings, the moon will rise at almost the same time.
This extra light is what farmers took advantage of to bring in the summer-grown crops, but also used it as an indicator that the harvest must commence, as the Harvest Moon marks the transition from summer into autumn and crops could soon start to perish.
Many of the Moon’s nicknames come from Native American culture, as the Lunar Calendar allowed them to keep track of time and seasons.
The number of Moon names differs slightly from tribe to tribe, but many assign either 12 or 13 full moons to the year. These names were then adopted by the Colonial Americans and eventually entered popular culture across the world.