Traditionally, today’s Full Moon is the Harvest Moon, but I like to look at other names given to this month’s Full Moon.
I say today’s Full Moon rather than tonight’s Full Moon because depending on the month and where you are reading this, the Moon might have reached its fullness while you were sleeping, eating breakfast, lunch or dinner in sunshine. Where I am typing this post, the Moon will be full at 03:05 pm (EDT), but in Perth, Hong Kong and Beijing it won’t happen until the calendar and clock say September 17 03:05 am (WST).
The Full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox is traditionally called the Harvest Moon. It is usually in September, but sometimes occurs in October. The autumn equinox this year for Paradelle is
September 22, 2016 at 10:21 AM EDT.
I do like that the Harvest Moon seems to be one of the rare names that both the English and many Indian tribes of eastern and northern North America agreed on. Other Native American names included the also harvest-themed Corn Moon and Barley Moon.
You will often see the Harvest Moon and Hunter Moon portrayed in photos and artwork as being very red or orange, which gives it an autumnal look. But any red effect is more of the seasonal tilt of the earth and the atmospheric conditions of nightfall. That reddish color of the moon as it rises low in the sky is from viewing it through a greater amount of atmospheric particles, including pollution and smoke. It looks whiter when it is higher overhead. All those particles scatter the blue part of the light spectrum, allowing the red end of the spectrum a straighter path to your eyes and the chance to dominate. Itis why the sunrise and sunset look so much more red. That’s less Romantic than thinking the Moon changed colors along with the tree leaves.
This month’s Full Moon is also called the Elk Call Moon. Although this is partially a reference to hunting, the Hunter’s Moon is a more modern name for the Full Moon that follows the Harvest Moon. That would be our October Full Moon.
Still today, most elk hunting begins around early September in a time known as pre-rut. During the summer, elk bulls’ grow their antlers grow and that ends late August, when testosterone levels rise and they begin the process of gathering as many cows as possible in harems jealously guarded by the herd bull for the duration of the rut. This is also when their vocalization increases and peaks the last two weeks of September.
Keep in mind that our friends in the southern hemisphere view the Full Moons of September, October and November as the Full Moons of spring.