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The Harvest Moon

I hope you were able to catch the Harvest Moon last week! When the weather cooperates, it is an amazing sight to behold as it rises over the horizon just after sunset. What is it that sets this moon apart from other full moons throughout the year?

First - the timing. The harvest moon isn't linked to a specific month, it can be in either September or October and the harvest moon is considered the full moon that falls closest to the fall equinox. In 2020, this happened in October.

Second - when the moon rises. Throughout the year, the moon typically rises about 50 or so minutes after sunset. For the harvest moon, the moon rises about 25 minutes after sunset. This means that the earth is bathed in bright moonlight as the sunlight is still fading. For farmers in the midst of the fall harvest, this affords them extra light so they can finish harvesting the summer crops. Hence the name "Harvest Moon"!

Celebration of the harvest moon in Asian cultures is centered around "Mid-autumn festival". There are family celebrations, special foods (moon cakes!), lanterns, and gatherings that are all offered to the moon. The Chinese legend is that a hero named Hou Yi, shot down 9 of the 10 suns that were overheating the Earth (and left us with the one we see today). The Goddess of the Heavens gave him an elixir that would allow him to ascend to the heavens to become a God. A bad man tried to steal the elixir, and to protect it, Hou Yi's wife drank the elixir and flew to the moon. Hou Yi was distraught at her leaving and made offerings each year at the fullest moon in hopes that she would come back to him.

So - there you have it, the Harvest Moon! Stay tuned on October 31st for the second full moon in the month of October...which makes it a Blue Moon!

Stay Wild and Free!


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