This year has been packed with plenty of sights for skywatchers to enjoy, including the epic total solar eclipse from back in August, but there’s still a few more treats left in 2017’s night skies. The next celestial happening takes place tonight, Friday, November 3rd, and into the morning of Saturday, November 4th. It’s called the Beaver Moon, and here’s what you need to know to have the best chance of spotting it.
The Beaver Moon is, like the Harvest Moon before it, a full moon event with a bit of lore to go along with it. If you happen to be out and about late tonight and into tomorrow morning — specifically at around 1:23am EST — the moon will be particularly bright and completely bathed in sunlight.
The full moon isn’t a “supermoon” this time around, like it was in early November of 2016, but it will still be a pretty neat sight, as all full moons are. That will be especially true because the moon should appear larger than most full moons so far this year, and will be the second largest full moon in 2017.
As for the lore surrounding the Beaver Moon name, the nickname caught on many years ago thanks to its use by fur traders and trappers. The Beaver Moon was said to be the last full moon before lakes and streams in the north inevitably freeze over, making it the last best shot for trappers to lay out their beaver traps and cash in or craft warm garments for themselves to endure the harsh winter ahead.
The Harvest moon, which occurred last month and was rather lovely, carries a similar backstory in that it was often used as an opportunity for farmers to work by moonlight to gather the last of their crops before frosty winter weather put an end to it.
In the days that follow tonight’s Beaver Moon — specifically the night of November 6th — the moon will be even closer to Earth than it is right now, and while it won’t be a full moon (which might have been considered a supermoon) it will still be worth a glimpse.