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September's big, beautiful 'Harvest Moon' will appear full starting tonight (Sept. 9)

The full harvest moon rises over New York City
The full harvest moon rises over New York City. (Image credit: Getty)

Autumn is on the way, and it's time to reap the beauty of September's full moon — popularly called the Harvest Moon.

The next full moon peaks on Saturday, Sept. 10 at approximately 6 a.m. EDT (10 a.m. UTC), although it will appear bright and full in the sky beginning tonight (Sept. 9) and into Sunday (Sept. 11) as well. The best time to catch the full moon is right after sunset, when the moon will rise close to the horizon, making it appear slightly larger than when it's high in the sky.

The moon is back to being a regular old full moon after summer gave us four supermoons in a row — that is, four full moons that rose during the moon's closest approach to Earth during its orbit, making the moon appear larger and up to 16% brighter in the sky than an average full moon, Live Science previously reported. August's "Sturgeon Moon" was the final supermoon of 2022.

September's full moon has been called by its Old European name, the Harvest Moon, since at least 1706, according to NASA. This is the closest full moon to the autumnal equinox, when many crops are harvested in the Northern Hemisphere; additionally, some farmers have historically used the full moon's light to work late into the night harvesting their crops, NASA added.

The moon goes by several non-European names, as well. Best known among them is the Corn Moon, coined by the Algonquin tribes who inhabited what is now the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. The Maine Farmers' Almanac, which began publishing Native American moon names in the 1930s, notes that the Corn Moon rises during the part of the year when  corn, pumpkins, squash and various other fall staples are harvested.

The Harvest Moon frequently coincides with several religious and cultural holidays, including the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated in China and several other Asian countries, and the 16-day Pitru Paksha period of the Hindu calendar. Last year, the moon also coincided with the start of the seven-day Sukkot holiday in Judaism.

The full moon occurs about once a month when the sun, Earth and moon align on an invisible 180-degree line. The moon's orbit is about 5 degrees different from Earth's, so our satellite is usually a little higher or lower than Earth's shadow, enabling the sun's rays to illuminate the side facing Earth.

The next full moon will be the Hunter's Moon, which falls on Oct. 9.

Originally published on Live Science on Sept. 6 and updated on Sept. 9 with viewing information on the weekend's Harvest Moon.

Brandon Specktor
Senior Writer

Brandon has been a senior writer at Live Science since 2017, and was formerly a staff writer and editor at Reader's Digest magazine. His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, CBS.com, the Richard Dawkins Foundation website and other outlets. He holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona, with minors in journalism and media arts. He enjoys writing most about space, geoscience and the mysteries of the universe.