If you're a big fan of astronomy, you're probably pretty pumped about September's upcoming full moon. But if you're not well versed in the skies (and heck, maybe even if you are), you might be wondering, what is the September full moon called? Because each full moon of the year does, in fact, have a name — and those names have some pretty fascinating history behind them.
When we talk about the history of full moons and what their different names mean, a lot of the significance ties into culture —so the fact that the full moon in September is known as the Harvest Moon tells us a lot about our own past. According to Space.com, the designation of Harvest Moon applies to the full moon which occurs closest to the autumnal equinox. (In 2016, that'll be on Sept. 22.) Historically speaking, farmers would use the Harvest Moon as a signal that it was peak harvest time; the extra bright light of the full moon at this time would allow them to work at their harvest late into the night. Pretty cool, right?
As explained over at the Farmers' Almanc, it's worth noting that the Harvest Moon can actually occur in either September or October; the exact date each year depends on when the autumnal equinox falls. Indeed, the Harvest Moon can occur anywhere between two weeks before to two weeks after the autumnal equinox.
So when is the Full Harvest Moon this year? Luckily for us, it's happening quite soon. In 2016, it falls during the "week before" window; the full moon itself will be on Sept. 16, with the equinox arriving just about a week later on Sept. 22. Earthsky.org estimates that the Harvest Moon will crest on Sept. 16 at 3:05 p.m. EST. Yes, that's right — during the daytime. But as Earthsky points out, it will likely look equally full to you not only that night, but also the nights of the 15th and the 17th, so either way, we're in for a show. And don't forget the fact that there's a penumbral lunar eclipse happening at the same time, too!
My my watch, you've got just enough time to make some awesome moon-gazing plans and start off your weekend right. After all, what better way is there to welcome Fall than checking out a gloriously big and bright moon? Time to break out those telescopes!