The Harvest Moon (as it is known by many traditions) is always the moon nearest the Autumn Equinox – this year the 22nd September. The Harvest Moon can fall in October but it does generally happen in September. The Moon which follows is the Hunters Moon. The Harvest Moon isn’t like the other Moons. Usually, throughout the year, the Moon rises an average of about 50 minutes later each day. But near the autumnal equinox, the difference is only 30 minutes. Also,the Full Harvest Moon rises at sunset and then will rise near sunset for several nights in a row because the difference is at a yearly minimum. It may almost seem as if there are full Moons multiple nights in a row. The abundance of bright moonlight early in the evening was a traditional aide to harvest workers, hence the “Harvest” Moon.
For the second year in succession, this month’s full moon is also partially eclipsed. A year ago Britain enjoyed the whole of a dramatic total eclipse, but this time we must be content with a less spectacular penumbral one which is already underway at moonrise (and sunset) on 16 September.
Don’t expect a spectacular dimming of the Moon. Our current eclipse season is drawing to its close and the Moon misses the central dark shadow of the Earth, the umbra. It still, though, sweeps through the southern part of the Earth’s penumbra where some direct sunlight is blocked. The Moon transits the penumbra between 17:55 and 21:54 BST with mid-eclipse coming at 19:54, some 30 minutes after moonrise and sunset for Britain. Although the Moon will be low in our eastern twilight, there should be no mistaking the eclipse in the upper quarter of its disc.
The full Harvest Moon will be in the sign of Pisces, a dreamy, emotional sign and this will act as a balance to the Sun, that is currently in the opposite sign of Virgo. This Moon will present a wonderful opportunity to overcome internal fears and to welcome the romantic side of love back into life. Immortalised in many songs, poems and art works the Harvest Moon is truly a Moon for magic and the imagination……
The Harvest Moon
by Ted Hughes
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward
To lie on the bottom of the sky, like a gold doubloon.
The harvest moon has come,
Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum.So people can’t sleep,
So they go out where elms and oak trees keep
A kneeling vigil, in a religious hush.
The harvest moon has come!
And all the moonlit cows and all the sheep
Stare up at her petrified, while she swells
Filling heaven, as if red hot, and sailing
Closer and closer like the end of the world.
Till the gold fields of stiff wheat
Cry `We are ripe, reap us!’ and the rivers
Sweat from the melting hills.