This month’s full moon occurs here on Monday, November 2. It is the full moon that is known most commonly as the Hunter’s Moon.
It is the first full moon after the Harvest Moon, but that can be confusing since the Harvest Moon is not always in the same month. Sometimes, the September full moon is called the Harvest Moon. The Harvest Moon is always the one that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years, like this year, it occurred in October. Therefore, in the northern hemisphere, the Hunter’s Moon appears most often in October and sometimes in November.
Prior to the 1700s, it was a feast day in parts of western Europe. Some Native American tribes also celebrated this particular moon.
Full Beaver Moon was a name used by both the colonists and the Algonquin tribes, because it was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.
People sometimes wonder why there are multiple names for the full moons. In some cases, American colonists adopted names that had been used in Europe. At other times, as the Native American culture began to mix with the Europeans, the colonists adopted some of the Native American terms. Since the Native American names names are generally based on the calendar of nature which varies widely across the United States, there was no common name for most of the moons.
Some tribes called this the Frost Moon because the first frost occurred near this moon, but in some northern areas, it was called the Snow Moon. You can find references to this moon being called the Blood Moon or Sanguine Moon though it is no more red than other moons.
The Hunter’s Moon gets its name because the moonlight is ideal for the hunters who frequently began their hunting season by autumn moonlight to begin building a supply for winter. Today, most states don’t allow hunting at night. And both the Hunter’s Moon and Harvest Moon are not really brighter, smaller, or yellower than full moons at other times of the year, but that has become part of the lore of the full moons.
The Hunter’s Moon seen in the northern hemisphere rises approximately 30 minutes later, from one night to the next, as seen from about 40 degrees N. latitude, for several evenings around the full Hunter’s Moon. That makes a shorter period of darkness between sunset and moonrise, which would give hunters extra light for tracking prey. The shorter time between successive moonrises around the time of the Harvest and Hunter’s Moon is because the orbit of the Moon makes a narrow angle with respect to the horizon in the evening in autumn, leading the Moon to higher positions in the sky each successive day.