During these late October evenings, a bright moon rises in the east as sunlight and twilight fade. The full moon that occurs nearest the first day of fall is known as the Harvest Moon. The next full moon after that is known as the Hunter’s Moon. This year, there is a Hunter’s moon on October 29th.
A full moon always rises right around sunset. In general, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each night, due to its easterly orbital motion around the earth. However, right after the full moons of late September and October, moon rise happens only 25 to 40 minutes later on successive nights, as seen from our Western Slope. This is because the moon moves farther north each night and the moon’s path through the sky is nearly perpendicular to the horizon. This motion produces relatively early moon-rise times on successive days. So, for several nights after the full moons of early fall, there is no true darkness from sunset throughout the entire night. The early rising moon brightens the night sky for late harvesters, hunters, and this year, for Halloween trick-or-treaters.
The terms Harvest Moon and Hunter’s Moon originated in Europe, and they are celebrated both in Europe and North America during and after the full moons of late September through early November. In the southern Hemisphere, the Harvest Moon and Hunter’s Moon occur during the austral autumn, from late March to early May.
Western Slope Skies is produced by members of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society.