Spooky Harvest Moon in the sky tonight

JACKSON, Wy. — The skies over Jackson cleared just in time for a truly autumnal astrological phenomenon.

September’s Full Harvest Moon rises tonight on the unluckiest — or luckiest, depending on who you talk to — day of the year: Friday the 13th.

Here in the mountain west, the moon will reach peak fullness at roughly 10:30 p.m., and anyone who looks toward the sky tonight will be able to see it in all its glory assuming the weather holds.

Harvest moons get their name because they happen closest to the fall equinox. They rise right at or right after sunset, and illuminate the sky during the early evening. The occasion gives farmers extra time to harvest their crops.

Harvest moons also appear to rise around the same time each day for a few days. Typically each moonrise is 50 minutes later than the last, but harvest moons rise roughly 25–30 minutes apart instead. Harvest moons also appear full for a few days before and after peak fullness. This one will look full until Sunday, according to NASA.

Tonight’s moon is also a “micromoon” which is, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, exactly the opposite of a “supermoon.” The moon will be at its farthest point of orbit around the sun, and it will look about 7% smaller and 15% dimmer than usual.

So the equation: Friday the 13th, plus a Full Harvest Moon, minus 15% brightness. Full moon, dark skies, mythically-spooky day. What could possibly go wrong?

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, full moons on Friday the 13th are pretty rare. The last one was in January 2006 — 13 years ago. We won’s see another one until August 2049.

 

 

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