Science News

Watch For The Harvest Moon This Week

Photo from Pixabay

On September 16, the normally bright, white moon may start to darken, signifying a penumbral eclipse.

The phenomenon is dubbed the harvest moon because of its close proximity to the autumn equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. The harvest moon rises a half hour later every night, so the additional light supposedly gave farmers more time to harvest their crops, hence the name, National Geographic reports.

Last year, the harvest moon happened when the moon made its closest approach to Earth, and turned red because of a total lunar eclipse. This time, the moon will turn dark again, but in a penumbral eclipse, which happens when the moon passes through a faint area of the Earth’s shadow, slightly darkening the moon. The eclipse is different as it will rise at roughly the same time for a number of nights more, shining more light.

The moon will be visible in many parts of the world, including Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia – but not the USA, unfortunately. The deepest, darkest phase of the moon will be at 2:54 p.m. ET (18:54 GMT), according to

There’s also an ongoing debate on whether the eclipse will be considered a “true supermoon” or not, as experts don’t agree on the definition for the term. A supermoon is when the moon is closer to the Earth, so it’s not a perfect circle. This makes it appear larger than normal, NASA says.

Regardless of controversy, the harvest moon will be slightly bigger to those watching the sky. This will be the last harvest moon to happen until 2024, scientists say, and the next big lunar event for the Eastern Hemisphere will be a total eclipse of the moon in January 2018.

Also, Neptune will be visible to the naked eye from September 2015 onwards, but viewing is best with the use of powerful binoculars or a telescope. It should appear as a faint, bluish disk among the glittering white pinpricks of stars.


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