September Harvest Moon and Other Special Celestial Highlights

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Harvest Moon Oil painting, image courtesy, The Farmers Almanac

Two notable events occur this month, the Harvest (Full) Moon tomorrow, Friday, 16 September and the Autumnal Equinox on Thursday, 22 September. In fact, they’re both linked. The full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox is known as the “Harvest Moon”, a designation indicting that the light of the full moon gave aid to the farmers of old, extending the time during which they could harvest their crops. In years when the Harvest Moon falls in October, the September full Moon is usually known as the Full Corn Moon because it traditionally corresponds with the time of harvesting corn. It is also called the Barley Moon because this is the time to harvest and thresh the ripened barley. For moon fans, the month begins and ends with a New Moon, with the Full Moon precisely sandwiched in between on the 16th day. For additional details, a full lunar calendar and the lore behind each month’s Full Moon, please visit the Farmers Almanac.


Rising Harvest Moon, 2015 Photo Credit: Farmer’s Almanac reader, Robin Osbon


Late twilight view of the waxing moon, tonight, 24 hours before full, 9/15/2016. Image courtesy, the author.


Another late twilight view of the waxing moon, tonight, 24 hours before full, 9/15/2016. Image courtesy, the author.







Panoramic wide-field view looking east of tonight’s rising moon, waxing towards full tomorrow, 9/16/2016. Image courtesy, the author.

On the occasion of this year’s Harvest Moon, there will also be a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse, not a full (umbral) lunar eclipse but a lunar eclipse where the moon will be partially immersed in the Earth’s penumbral shadow. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into the shadow cast by the Earth and is only visible during the Full Moon phase.

On Friday, September 16, 2016, at 9:45 AM PDT | 12:45 PM EDT | 16:45 UTC The Old Farmer’s Almanac will partner with Slooh’s global network of observatories to broadcast this event to the world.

Live Stream starts: 9:45 AM PDT ¦ 12:45 PM EDT ¦ 16:45UTC
Live Stream ends: 2:00 PM PDT ¦ 5:00 PM EDT ¦ 21:00UTC


This years Autumnal Equinox occurs at 14:21 UTC (10:21 EDT). Note the coordinates of the sun and the locations of Venus, Jupiter and Mercury. Image via Stellarium

The Autumnal Equinox, the astronomical beginning of Autumn, like the Vernal Equinox which marks the astronomical beginning of spring, has equal hours of daylight and darkness, 12 hours each. On this day, the sun transits the celestial equator (Declination: 0 deg, Right Ascention: 12h:00m), midway between the solstices (Summer, in June and Winter, in December). This year it occurs on Thursday, 22 September at 14:21 Universal Time (UTC) (10:21 EDT). Note the location of the sun and the meridian and that the Equinox occurs east (2h, 24m) of local noon for locations along the North American Eastern seaboard. Local noon is defined as the transit of the sun across the meridian.

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