Harvest Moon will make a rare October sighting today

The last time was in 2009 and the next will be in 2020

Stargazers across the UK will get a chance to see the harvest moon at its full glory tonight. The celestial sighting usually takes place in October but today’s appearance will be rare since it’s happening in September.

The phenomenon ‘harvest moon’ reportedly gets its name from the first full moon which takes place closest to the Autumn Equinox. This particular moon tends to be massive and has a reddish-orange tint to it. It is said that the harvest moon’s enormous size is due to an optical illusion which makes low-hanging moons appear to be larger when they rise higher into the sky.

As the name suggests, the harvest moon traditionally marks the start of harvest season when the farmers bring in ripened crops in preparation for winter. The orange moon would light up the night’s sky, giving them more time to work in the days.

The lunar cycle follows a strict 28-day pattern as the moon orbits the Earth. This puts it out of sync with the solar cycle of between 30 and 31 days to a month, meaning lunar events occur at odd times of the year. This is only the 18th October appearance by a harvest moon in the 80 years between 1970 and 2050.

The sighting will begin today at around 6:40pm and the moon will be at its brightest until 7:40pm.

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