September’s full moon will be visible in skies above the UK tonight, marking the turning of the seasons.
The moon, also known as the Harvest Moon, appears just before the autumn equinox on Wednesday (22 September), which signals the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.
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What is a Harvest Moon?
The Harvest Moon, sometimes referred to as the ‘Corn Moon’, is the closest full moon to the autumn equinox and is symbolic of a new beginning.
Each year the full moons are believed to take on the character of the zodica sign they fall in, with the Harvest Moon occurring in the zodiac sign of Pisces on 20 September, which is associated with dreaminess and sensitivity.
Near the time of the equinox, the angle of the moon’s orbit relative to the Earth’s horizon is at its minimum, meaning the moon rises above the horizon much faster than usual.
Historically, the light from the Harvest Moon was said to help farmers work late into the night, as the bright moonlight helped illuminate the fields after sunset.
It traditionally signalled the time of year for farmers to start harvesting their summer crops before the arrival of the autumn frosts.
When can I see it?
The Harvest Moon is expected to reach its peak fullness at 12.45am on Tuesday 21 September, just a day before the autumn equinox.
The moon will rise not long after sunset on Monday and will remain visible until the early hours of Tuesday.
It will be visible without the need for any specialist equipment and if you look closely, it should have an orangey hue surrounding it due to its close proximity to the horizon.
If you miss it, it will also rise at almost the same time the following day and should still appear bright and almost full.
When is the autumn equinox?
The autumn equinox occurs in September every year and will take place on Wednesday 22 September in the UK, at 8.21pm.
The Earth is tilted on its axis, meaning that as it orbits the sun, the northern and southern hemisphere will be illuminated depending on where it is along its orbit.
At two points in the year, the sun illuminates both the northern and southern hemispheres equally, in what is known as the equinoxes.
The autumn equinox signals the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, meaning the days will gradually start to get shorter in the lead up to the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.
When is the next full moon?
The remaining full moons of the year include:
- Hunter’s Moon on 20 October
- Beaver Moon on 19 November
- Cold Moon on 18 December
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