When Is the Harvest Moon? 2018 Moon Comes 2 Days After September Equinox

It doesn't happen the same night as the autumnal equinox, but it's close.

by Josie Rhodes Cook

This fall’s full moon might not be a blood moon or a lunar eclipse, but there’s still good reason to look up at the sky next week. It’s almost time for this year’s Harvest Moon, which is the full moon that comes closest to the September equinox, which occurs around September 22. It usually happens in September, but every three years, an October Harvest Moon occurs instead. Last year, for instance, the Harvest Moon was on October 5.

The last time the Harvest Moon fell on the same night as the autumnal equinox was back in 2010. A “super” harvest moon like that won’t happen again until 2029. But the Harvest Moon and the equinox are pretty close this time around.

Full moon on September 12, 2011

Flickr / DebAnne70

What is the Harvest Moon?

Some sources say the Harvest Moon gets its name from old American folklore, because prior to people having electricity, farmers used the bright light of this particular moon to harvest their crops. Since many fruits and vegetables ripen in the early autumn, the Harvest Moon was a good indicator that many plants were ready for picking, or harvesting. Get it?

However, reports that the name “was recorded as early as in the 700s in both Anglo-Saxon and Old High German languages.” Indeed, Wales Online reports that some historians believe the name was first recorded “in the 700s in Old German and Anglo-Saxon languages” as well.

When is the Harvest Moon?

This year, the Harvest Moon will rise on Monday, September 24 at 10:52 p.m. Eastern, The Old Farmer’s Almanac website reports. Times for the rise of the Harvest Moon can of course vary by time zone, so keep that in mind if you live anywhere besides the East Coast in the United States.

The September equinox will take place on Saturday, September 22, so it’s just two days before the Harvest Moon this year. There are two equinoxes every year, one in September and March. The equinox occurs when the sun shines directly on the equator and when the length of day and night is almost equal. This month’s equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is generally considered the first day of fall (even if, culturally, it often seems like Labor Day, at the beginning of the month, is the last day of summer).

The Harvest Moon is likely to put on a lovely show this year, so make sure you take a minute to put down your phone or pause Netflix to look up at the night sky and catch a glimpse.

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