September’s full harvest moon is the last supermoon of the year

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By Ashley Strickland | CNN

The full harvest moon will shine in the early morning hours of September 29, also marking the fourth and final supermoon of 2023.

September’s full moon will reach peak illumination around 5:58 a.m. ET Friday, but it is expected to appear entirely illuminated through Saturday morning, according to NASA.

Definitions of a supermoon can vary, but the term generally denotes a full moon that is closer to Earth than normal and thus appears larger and brighter in the night sky. The moon will be 224,854 miles (361,867 kilometers) away from Earth, about 14,046 miles (22,604 kilometers) closer than its average distance. The closest supermoon of the year occurred on August 30, when the moon was just 221,954 miles (357,200 kilometers) away from Earth.

September’s full moon will appear about 5% bigger and 13% brighter than the average full moon, according to NASA.

Some astronomers say the phenomenon occurs when the moon is within 90% of perigee — its closest approach to Earth in orbit.

The name harvest moon is a nod to the season of gathering because the event occurs close to the beginning of fall, or the autumnal equinox, which fell this year on September 23. Typically, this time of year is when many crops peak in the Northern Hemisphere, and the bright moon once helped farmers work into the evening to harvest their bounty ahead of the first frost, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Other monikers for September’s full moon across different indigenous tribes include the corn maker moon from the Abenaki tribe, the moon of the brown leaves from the Lakota people and autumn moon from the Passamaquoddy tribe.

Other harvest-celebrating traditions around this time include the Korean festival of Chuseok and the Japanese Buddhist holiday of Higan, both of which also celebrate the remembrance of ancestors, according to Royal Museums Greenwich.

Many people associate the harvest moon with being orange in color as it begins to rise, but the same could be said of all full moons. The hue is due to the thickness of Earth’s atmosphere near the horizon, which is greater than when the full moon is overhead, according to EarthSky.

Several planets are also currently visible in the night sky, according to The Planetary Society. Gold-tinged Saturn and bright Jupiter rise in the east and appear high in the later hours, while Venus (one of the brightest objects visible in the night sky) shines before dawn. Meanwhile, Mercury dances low along the eastern horizon before dawn.

Full moons and supermoons

Here are the full moons remaining in 2023, according to the Farmers’ Almanac:

● October 28: Hunter’s moon

● November 27: Beaver moon

● December 26: Cold moon

Lunar and solar eclipses

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