If spring is about beginnings, fall represents endings.
That’s especially true for farmers who race the calendar and shorter days to get their crops in.
Not surprisingly, the harvest moon has come to represent autumn.
But it is later than usual this year.
Instead of being in September, this year’s date is Thursday, Oct. 5.
It’s different because this year’s autumnal equinox, or when the sun shines almost directly over the equator, occurred on Sept. 22.
In other words, goodbye summer. Hello fall.
As a result, this week’s full moon is the Harvest moon because it is the closest full moon in the calendar, according to science writer Jeff Parsons.
Like the name?
There’s actually folklore, coupled with some logic, behind it.
Historians say it symbolized the time when farmers gathered their harvest in preparation for winter.
Astronomists understand the science behind this phenomenon.
“The shorter-than-usual time between moonrises around the full Harvest moon means no long period of darkness between the sunset and moonrise for days in succession.
As the sun’s light faded in the west, the moon would soon rise in the east to illuminate the fields throughout the night,” according to Deborah Byrd in Astronomy Essentials.
As a result, farmers worked by the light of this particular full moon to finish their harvest chores.
Even now, this spectacular celestial event is easy to see without a high-powered telescope or fancy technology.
That’s if the weather is good, and the sky is relatively clear.
Don’t necessarily expect an orange, glowing orb but then again…
It can look different since the location of the moon near the horizon can cause this or any other full moon to look bigger and more orange in color.
“The orange color of a moon near the horizon is a true physical effect. It stems from the fact that when you look toward the horizon, you are looking through a greater thickness of Earth’s atmosphere than when you gaze up and overhead,” Byrd’s article reads.
“The atmosphere scatters blue light, and that’s why the sky looks blue. The greater thickness of atmosphere in the direction of a horizon scatters blue light most effectively, but it lets red light pass through to your eyes.
“So a moon near the horizon takes on a yellow, orange or reddish hue.”
Want to know one more related piece of lunar trivia?
The Hunter’s moon usually falls in October, but will instead take place Nov. 3.
That’s also due to the later than usual Harvest moon.