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How and when to watch this year’s glorious Harvest Moon

harvest moon 2017

2017 has been absolutely packed with interesting celestial events that gave skywatchers plenty of reasons to crane their necks and take in the sights, and this Thursday there’s yet another. A particularly late Harvest Moon is set to dominate the skies on October 5th, and you can catch it in all its glory as long as the weather cooperates.

The Harvest Moon, which is the name given to the full moon that falls closest to the autumnal equinox, will be visible near sunset on Thursday evening. It will appear full for a couple of nights, but if you want to snap the iconic “orange moon” photo that is so often associated with the Harvest Moon you’ll want to capture it just as it breaks free of the horizon on Thursday night. That’s when it’ll appear the largest to our eye, and with the sun’s light bouncing off the moon and through a thick angle of Earth’s atmosphere, it’ll take on an orangish hue.

The Harvest Moon got its name thanks to — you guessed it — agriculture. When farmers had to process entire fields without the high-tech machines they have today, working through the night was a reality of the job. A bright full moon in autumn provided the perfect nighttime lighting for work in the fields and thus the Harvest Moon was born.

The full moon itself isn’t actually any different than other full moons seen throughout the year. However, it’s taken on a special mythos, and for whatever reason people seem to love spotting it. If you are blessed with a clear night sky on Thursday evening, you’ll get to do just that.