Over the past number of evenings, my wife and I have really been enjoying watching the moon as it approaches ‘full.’ Every Full moon in the lunar cycle, has a particular name associated with it. In September, or sometimes October, the standard moon name is replaced with “Harvest Moon.”
Harvest Moon is decided by the Autumnal Equinox. The full moon occurring closest to the first day of autumn, is awarded the title – October full moon is 3 days closer to equinox than full moon in September. We haven’t seen an October Harvest Moon since 2009, and not again until 2020.
There is nothing particularly special about the Moon itself at this time of year, however, The time at which the moon rises around the equinox differs slightly from other times of year. As a result, there are noticeably brighter nights around harvest time.
The chart below, from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, has names and descriptions for each moon of the year. If you’re looking for more context on this Harvest Moon in particular, there is a great article here in National Geographic.
|January||Full Wolf Moon||This full Moon appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages. It is also known as the Old Moon. To some Native American tribes, this was the Snow Moon, but most applied that name to the next full Moon, in February.|
|February||Full Snow Moon||Usually the heaviest snows fall in February. Hunting becomes very difficult, and hence to some Native American tribes this was the Hunger Moon.|
|March||Full Worm Moon||At the time of this spring Moon, the ground begins to soften and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of robins. This is also known as the Sap Moon, as it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins.|
|April||Full Pink Moon||This full Moon heralded the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox—one of the first spring flowers. It is also known as the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Fish Moon.|
|May||Full Flower Moon||Flowers spring forth in abundance this month. Some Algonquin tribes knew this full Moon as the Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.|
|June||Full Strawberry Moon||The Algonquin tribes knew this Moon as a time to gather ripening strawberries. It is also known as the Rose Moon and the Hot Moon.|
|July||Full Buck Moon||At this time, a buck’s antlers are in full growth mode. This full Moon was also known as the Thunder Moon, because thunderstorms are so frequent during this month.|
|August||Full Sturgeon Moon||Some Native American tribes knew that the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full Moon. Others called it the Green Corn Moon.|
|September||Full Corn Moon||This full Moon corresponds with the time of harvesting corn. It is also called the Barley Moon, because it is the time to harvest and thresh the ripened barley. The Harvest Moon is the full Moon nearest the autumnal equinox, which can occur in September or October and is bright enough to allow finishing of all the harvest chores.|
|October||Full Hunter’s Moon||This is the month when the leaves are falling and the game is fattened. Now is the time for hunting and laying in a store of provisions for the long winter ahead. October’s Moon is also known as the Travel Moon and the Dying Moon.|
|November||Full Beaver Moon||For both the colonists and the Algonquin tribes, this was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. This full Moon was also called the Frost Moon.|
|December||Full Cold Moon||This is the month when the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark. This full Moon is also called the Long Nights Moon by some Native American tribes.|