Image for article titled When to See October's 'Hunter Moon' at Peak Brilliance

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You can see October’s full moon, called “The Hunter’s Moon,” rise on Sunday, October 9. It will be at its absolute brightest at at 4:54 P.M. ET, but you’ll have to wait for it to float over the horizon to see it. Or check it out on Saturday night; it won’t be fully full, but it will be close enough.

Why is October’s moon called The Hunter’s Moon?

The unofficial names of moons mostly come from Native Americans. It’s thought that the name “Hunter Moon” is a suggestion (or warning) that it’s time to prepare for the coming winter by bagging some game—the animals are fattened up and the fields harvested to take cover away from the prey, and hunting can be done by the light of the moon. There’s really no excuse for you not to hunt, unless you live in Minneapolis and work in accounts payable or something.

The Hunter’s Moon and the Harvest Moon are unique because their names are not tied to the months they occur in; instead, “Harvest Moon” refers to the full moon that rises closest to the Autumn Equinox, and The Hunter’s Moon is the one that follows it. The Harvest Moon can rise in either September or October, and the Hunter Moon appears in either October or November, depending not he date of the equinox.

Why does the moon appear so huge in the autumn?

The Hunter’s Moon should appear gigantic as it rises, but not because it’s much larger than any other month’s moon. It’s because the moon is near the horizon, so earthly landmarks give you something to compare it to. We’re also seeing the moon from a tricky perspective, so the Ponzo illusion plays a part.

That’s what they say anyway. The rational part of my brain knows all about the moon illusion. I’ve seen time-lapse photos that demonstrate that the moon is the same size over the course of a night. But whenever I see a big, full moon, I still don’t totally believe it. It’s bigger! Just look at the thing!

Random cool moon fact

Speaking of believing weird things, according to polling conducted in 2019, around six percent of Americans believe the moon landings never happened. That’s down significantly from the 30% of Americans in 1970 who doubted that man went to the moon.

The arguments and evidence presented by lunar conspiracy theorists are easily debunked, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference—even in the face of photographs of Apollo landing sites taken in 2013 by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, 18 million Americans still don’t accept the truth.

 



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