NASA Science reminds us that this Sunday night (Sep 27) and into the early hours of Monday, the full Harvest Moon will glide through the shadow of Earth, turning the Harvest Moon a golden-red color akin to autumn leaves:
The action begins at 9:07 PM Eastern Time on the evening of Sept 27th when the edge of the Moon first enters the amber core of Earth’s shadow. For the next three hours and 18 minutes, Earth’s shadow will move across the lunar disk.
Totality begins at 10:11 PM Eastern Time. That’s when the Moon is completely enveloped by the shadow of our planet. Totality lasts for an hour and 12 minutes so there is plenty of time to soak up the suddenly-red moonlight.
The reason the Moon turns red may be found on the surface of the Moon itself. Using your imagination, fly to the Moon and stand inside a dusty lunar crater. Look up. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside facing you, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway.
You might suppose that the Earth overhead would be completely dark. After all, you’re looking at the nightside of our planet. Instead, something amazing happens. When the sun is located directly behind Earth, the rim of the planet seems to catch fire! The darkened terrestrial disk is ringed by every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all at once. This light filters into the heart of Earth’s shadow, suffusing it with a coppery glow.
Click through for more including a video Science Cast of how it all works.
Kevin is the go-to moon-and-astronomy guy on Michigan in Pictures, delivering great photos and info. He shares this about the Harvest Moon:
The “Harvest Moon” is the name traditionally given to the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal (fall) equinox. The Harvest Moon usually comes in September, but (on average) once or twice a decade it will fall in early October. At the peak of the harvest, farmers can work into the night by the light of this moon.
At this time of the year also occurs the “Harvest Moon Effect”. Usually the moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans and wild rice are now ready for gathering.