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Super harvest moon tonight is the last this year: All you need to know

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The final supermoon of 2023, the Harvest Moon, is set to illuminate the night sky, marking the end of a summer filled with spectacular full moons. This celestial event, as reported will be accompanied by a dazzling planetary display featuring Jupiter, Saturn, and the diminutive Mercury.

People walk on the roof of the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon, as a full supermoon rises in the background, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)(AP)
People walk on the roof of the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon, as a full supermoon rises in the background, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)(AP)

What exactly is a supermoon?

A supermoon occurs when the moon is at or near its closest point to Earth during its orbit, making it appear larger and brighter in the night sky compared to other phases in its cycle.

This year’s Harvest Moon will reach its peak brilliance at approximately 6 a.m. ET on Friday, following its grand appearance on Thursday night in United States. The moon’s radiant glow will still grace our skies on Friday evening.

What is Harvest Moon

The Harvest Moon, sometimes referred to as the Corn Moon, derives its name from its proximity to the autumnal equinox, which occurred on September 23. Traditionally, this full moon’s appearance has been associated with the end-of-summer harvests. However, it’s worth noting that every three years, the Harvest Moon shifts to October, so not all Corn Moons earn the title of Harvest Moon.

The origin of the Harvest Moon is deeply rooted in agricultural traditions. Before the advent of tractors with headlights, farmers relied on moonlight to hasten the harvest before rain could spoil their crops. This moon’s timing aligns perfectly with the ripening of various crops in late summer and early autumn. NASA traces the term “Harvest Moon” back to its first printed appearance in 1706, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

The Harvest Moon possesses unique characteristics that set it apart. Notably, it rises during twilight for several consecutive nights, eliminating prolonged periods of darkness between sunset and moonrise. This characteristic has traditionally been beneficial to farmers during the harvest season.

Furthermore, the Harvest Moon often appears with an orange hue due to the angle at which it rises. As it ascends on the horizon, it appears larger and its light passes through a larger portion of Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in the orange tint.

Harvest Moon significance

The Harvest Moon holds cultural significance in various festivals worldwide. For instance, East Asia celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, around this time. It’s a time for family gatherings, moon gazing, and the indulgence of mooncakes.

In folklore and traditions, the Harvest Moon is associated with romance, mysticism, abundance, and preparation for winter. Some cultures even believed it could influence behavior or fertility.

As we marvel at the fourth and final supermoon of 2023, remember that the Harvest Moon’s name is intertwined with the crucial role of moonlight in facilitating harvests in days gone by. This celestial spectacle is a testament to the cyclical nature of life and the enduring connection between the heavens and Earth. If you miss this week’s supermoon, mark your calendar for the next one in the summer of 2024, when the night sky will once again be graced by its radiant presence.

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