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You need to see the Corn Moon illuminate the skies this week

The last full moon before the autumnal equinox will be fully lit September 2 for sky gazers to marvel at it.

Celestial objects come and go in the visible night sky all the time. Whether it be a full Moon or a meteor shower, or just the best night to see Mars, we're here to direct your eyes skyward and tell you to look up and appreciate the wonders of space from Earth.

This week, we're asking you to look at a bright, and completely illuminated full Moon. The last full Moon of the summer, this special Moon will rise after midnight on Wednesday, September 2, at 1:22 a.m. EDT and appear full for three days, according to NASA.

Here's what you need to know.

Over a period of 27 days, 7 hours and 43 minutes, the Moon goes through its lunar cycle, varying in its perceived brightness and size in our night skies.

The Moon's lunar cycle is marked by several milestones. At the peak of its cycle, a small sliver of the Moon’s crescent gradually appears in our skies as it waxes to become a full Moon. After that, it starts to wane into invisibility once more, before beginning anew.

When the Moon is full, the orbiting rock bares its full face to us Earth dwellers when our planet sits right between the Sun and the Moon. As a result, the side of the Moon facing the Earth becomes fully illuminated by the Sun’s beaming light.

The lunar cycle goes through different variations of brightness in the night sky.


What is a Corn Moon? — When the full Moon falls in September, it is known as the Corn, Fruit, or Barley Moon, as it coincides with the harvest season. Native American tribes dubbed it the 'Corn Moon' as it marked the time when they gathered their corn crops in the Northeastern United States, as well as pumpkin, squash, beans and rice. In Europe, it is known as the 'Fruit' and 'Barley Moon,' as it is when most fruit crops are gathered, as well as barely.

September's full Moon also corresponds with the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival, during which the ghosts of Chinese ancestors are let out of hell during Ghost Month.

NASA/Bill Dunford

Here's how to spot this year's last full Moon prior to the autumnal equinox (happening Tuesday, 22 September):

The Moon will be bright and visibly fuller in the night skies starting in the evening of Monday, 31 August, and remain so all the way through to the night of Thursday, 3 September.

The full Moon will reach its peak illumination during the early hours of dusk on Wednesday, 2 September.

Next month, we will witness the rare event of two full Moons in the same month, as the celestial object will be fully illuminated on both October 1 and October 31.

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