If you are living in the United States, you might want to check out an incredibly rare harvest full moon that will be appearing in the sky this week. The harvest moon is the full moon which is closest to the start of the fall equinox, and this year it will occur on the mythical Friday the 13th.
For those in the Eastern Standard Time Zone in the United States, the harvest moon will appear at exactly 12:33 AM on Saturday, just after midnight, but it will be visible until sunrise on Sunday morning.
The last time that a harvest moon occurred on Friday the 13th was the 13th of October, 2000, and this won’t be happening again until the 13th of October, in the year 2049.
The event will also be unique because it will appear as what experts call a “micro-moon,” which means that the moon will look significantly smaller because it is nearing the point where it is the farthest from Earth in its cycle.
Harvest moons have been recognized since the times of our ancient ancestors. The phenomenon got its name because during pre-industrial times the moon would light up the sky and allow farmers to work late into the night. It was also sometimes called a “hunter’s moon” for similar reasons, as the moonlight allowed hunters to see better and operate at times that they wouldn’t usually be able to.
On the other hand, the fact that it falls on Friday the 13th this year has caused a great deal of excitement as well. However, this coincidence is not that big of a deal, and has nothing to do with astronomy. The day of Friday the 13th is simply something that is recognized by popular culture because of historical events and a legendary film series.
There's a rare harvest moon on the rise…and it will happen on Friday the 13th. https://t.co/qvNqMV1iKC
— ABC News (@ABC) September 10, 2019
The date is thought to be unlucky, but this superstition stems from the historical arrest and execution of the Templar Knights, an elite group of politically connected warriors who accrued so much power that they became a target for the nobility of the time.
For some reason, the date that this group was rounded up and arrested became marked as an unlucky day in history. It is also possible that the superstition surrounding the number 13 played a role in the development of this myth as well. More recently, the horror film “Friday the 13th,” has renewed the superstition for a new era, and now many people in modern times are legitimately afraid to leave their homes on this day.
Unfortunately for them, they won’t be able to check out the awesome harvest moon this week if they refuse to leave their homes! The fall equinox will occur just about a week after the harvest moon at 3:50 AM on Monday, September 23. The fall equinox marks the end of summer and the beginning of the autumn season. Many people today don’t realize it, but the passage of our seasons are actually determined by the alignment of celestial bodies, and this has been happening for many thousands of years.