October Full Moon: Tonight Is the Best Night to See the Hunter's Moon
This week marks the appearance of the Hunter’s Moon in the Northern Hemisphere, a full moon that officially takes its spot opposite the Sun at 12:45 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, the peak of a three-day period from Tuesday to Thursday. Lunar watchers in the United States will appreciate it as the last full moon before Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 4.
As the name suggests, the Hunter’s moon indicates that it’s prime time to not only collect crops, but also bust out a bow and arrow and go hunting, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. (The full moon provides great lighting). The Hunter’s moon, first referenced by the Oxford English Dictionary in 1710, is also called a sanguine or blood moon, for the vibrant color of fall leaves — not to be mixed up with the scientific phenomena of a blood moon. This moon follows the Harvest Moon, the full moon that falls closest to the autumn equinox.
Located in regions ranging from New England and Lake Superior, the Algonquin tribes first named these moons, according to the almanac. Moon names are often tied to the European calendar, but NASA Program Executive Gordon Johnston suggests the moons are better aligned with seasons. There’s no one correct name for a moon, since location influenced name choice. For example, travel moon, perhaps named for bird migrations, is yet another name for the Hunter’s moon.
Although the brightness of the Hunter’s moon doesn’t differ from other full moons, it does have its loony quirks. Usually, a moon rises 50 minutes later each day, but the Hunter’s moon rises about 30 minutes later each night of its cycle. The fact that sunset and moonrise are close leaves extra light in the sky, giving farmers and hunters more time to prepare for the impending winter — and for feasts.
This week, Halley’s comet will also be dusting the night sky with its debris in the form of the Orionid meteor shower, although this year moonlight may make visibility difficult. The shower will continue through November 7, 2018.
For those in the Southern Hemisphere, the Harvest and Hunter’s moon orients around the March equinox. But for those in the Northern Hemisphere, starting from sunset, a few nights of excellent moon-gazing lie ahead.