ROCKFORD (WREX) — Friday night features September’s full moon. Tonight’s full moon is often referred to as the “Harvest Moon” and will be full at 11:33 p.m.
Why is September’s full moon referred to as the Harvest Moon? For several evenings around this time, the moon rises shortly after sunset. This created an abundance of natural light for farmers attempting to collect the harvest before the first killing frost. Since farmers typically put in long days to prevent crops from slowly rotting, working in the light of a full moon was a necessity. The moon rises on average approximately 50 minutes later each day. Since the moon is rising relatively close to the autumnal equinox, that difference is only about thirty minutes.
Not only does tonight feature a full moon, it also happens to be Friday the 13th! If you’re thinking this must happen fairly regularly, you’d be mistaken. This occurrence doesn’t happen very often. In fact, the last time a full moon fell on Friday the 13th was back in October of 2000. Those susceptible to superstition, you might be comforted in knowing it’ll be a while before the next full moon falls on Friday the 13th. The next full moon to fall on this supposedly unlucky date won’t be for another thirty years, occurring in August of 2049.
Tonight’s moon may seem a little smaller than what you’d expect. Despite the fact that this evenings moon will be full, it is considered a ‘micromoon.’ A micromoon occurs when the moon’s orbit is at its farthest point from Earth. A full moon at apogee can appear as much as 14-percent smaller than a regular full moon. In September 2015, the Harvest Moon was actually that years closest and biggest supermoon.
Skies should remain mostly clear this evening, allowing you to be able to enjoy tonight’s sky show.