Friday, September 13, 2019

A Majestic ‘Micro Harvest Moon’ Is Coming. How, When And Where You Can See It This Week

Fall is a very special time of year for sky-watchers. Iconic constellations like Perseus rise in the early evening, as does the sparkling Pleiades cluster, just as the Summer Triangle gradually sinks in the western sky. However, one of the key sights at this wonderful time of year is the Harvest Moon, which occurs this Friday and Saturday depending on where you are on the planet.

We’ve just had a “new moon supermoon”, with one to come later this month, so it should be no surprise that this full moon in the middle is also something rare and special–a “Micro Harvest Moon”
What is a Micro Harvest Moon?

You know what a supermoon is. It’s when the full moon appears to be larger in the sky than usual because it’s relatively close to the Earth. The moon has an elliptical orbit, so once in its 29 day journey around our planet it’s as close as it gets (perigee–a supermoon) and once it’s the furthest it gets (apogee–a micro moon). A micro moon looks smaller than usual, so this weekend’s Harvest Moon is going to be slightly less bright than average. However, if you think that makes any difference to the experience of watching the Harvest Moon close to a horizon, you would be mistaken. It’s still going to be a majestic sight.

How, when and where to see the Harvest Moon?

Officially, the moon reaches 100% illumination at the same global time of 4:33am UTC, which is at 5.33 BST a.m./12:33 a.m. on Saturday and 9.33 p.m. PDT on Friday. However, that’s not when to observe the Harvest Moon, which is best done by looking to the east at moonrise on Friday or by looking to the west at moonset early on Saturday morning. Find local times for moonrise and moonset for your location.

Technically, Friday evening is the very “best” time to see a full moon this month, though Thursday and Saturday would do just as well, and even Wednesday and Sunday because the Harvest Moon rises only around 20 minutes later each night. Mostly the moon rises around 50 minutes later each night.

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