Harvest Moon 2020: When and where to see October’s first full moon

13 full moons, including 1 Blue moon and 2 supermoons, to appear during 2020

October will be bookended by full moons, with the first happening tonight.

The Harvest Moon usually makes an appearance in September, but nothing in 2020 is “usual.” The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox on Sept. 22, so September had the Corn Moon and October claims the Harvest.

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This last happened in 2017. “Before electricity, farmers relied on moonlight during the fall months to help them harvest the late summer and early autumn crops. Because moonlight was an essential part of farming during this time and the moonrise happened very quickly after sunset, it became known as the Harvest Moon, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.”

According to EarthSky.org, the Harvest Moon’s distance from Earth – and apparent size in our sky – is different from year to year.

“In 2019, the Harvest Moon was actually a micro-moon or mini-moon: the most distant and smallest full moon of the year 2019. This year, in 2020, the Harvest Moon is the second-smallest full moon of 2020. But four years ago – September 28, 2015 – the Harvest Moon was the year’s closest and biggest supermoon.”

The exact time of the full Harvest Moon is Oct. 1 at 21:05 Universal Time. In the East, that translates to Oct. 1 at 5:05 p.m.

If you’re wondering why the Harvest Moon looks orange, it’s because “when you look toward the horizon you’re looking through a greater thickness of Earth’s atmosphere than when you gaze up and overhead,” EarthSky.com wrote.

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This year you might see more than just an orange orb, though.

"The Harvest Moon will be near a fiery red object in our night sky. People around the world will be looking at the moon and wondering: ‘What star is that?!’ " EarthSky wrote. “It’s not a star. It’s the red planet Mars.”

October isn’t stopping at just one full moon, however. On the last day of the month we’ll get a Blue Moon.

“In recent years, people have been using the name Blue Moon for the second of two full moons in a single calendar month,” NASA posted. “An older definition of Blue Moon is that it’s the third of four full moons in a single season.”

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For an unobstructed view of the moon, stars and planets, head to one of these Georgia locations:

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