You might not have heard of the Sturgeon Moon in August or the Buck Moon in July but chances are you’ve heard of the Harvest Moon that is appearing overhead now in September.
It’s more than just a popular song.
Harvest Moon is the name some cultures, native tribes and farmers have given to the full moon that usually appears mid to late September because it rises when the sun goes down thus giving famers more light to get the crops in.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the September autumnal equinox. In 2021 that comes Sept. 22 when day and night are about equal in length. (It comes in March in the Southern Hemisphere)
You probably noticed that large golden orb already appearing above the horizon. It will be fullest and brightest Sept. 20, about 6:45 p.m. CDT. but will also appear full the following day.
If listening to TV weather reports, you are likely to hear meteorologists referencing the date as the beginning of autumnal fall but adding that meteorological fall began about 3 weeks before the September equinox on Sept. 1.
Autumnal fall ends at the December Solstice, when astronomical winter begins. but for meteorologists the fall season ends Nov. 30.
Enjoy our bright sky light all weekend. The moon will appear full Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021 but it really will be opposite the sun Sunday morning at 8:02 a.m. and even look full on Monday.
According to the Farmer’s almanac the Algonquin tribes in the northeastern states called the August full moon the Sturgeon Moon because these fish were usually more easily caught in the Great Lakes then.
A rather ugly, large fish, sturgeon ancestors date back to the time dinosaurs roamed the region. The Grand Rapids Public Museum has a permanent exhibit about these Great Lake fish.
But the August Moon is also called a blue moon even though that definition typically refers to two full moons in one month. In this case the referral is to full moons in one season.
American Indians and farmers (among other groups) associate each full moon with animal and plant seasons. So when looking up July 23-24 think of that large orb moving westward across the sky as the Buck Moon because those deer are growing their antlers now. Or call it the Hay Moon because farmers usually load their hay in barns now away from storms.
It will look full for a few days but optimal fullness is when it is directly opposite the sun. In central part of the United States that is July 23 at 9:37 CDT.