The Harvest Moon this week is the ninth Full Moon of the year and one of the most chilling spectacles of astronomy. Not only will the Full Moon rise around the time of sunset, but it will also be a smaller-than-usual Micromoon. In some parts of the world, the Harvest Moon will also peak before midnight on Friday 13th. The rare occurrence on the superstitious date has stargazers around the world buzzing with excitement.
Patrick Sullivan wrote on Twitter: “So September 13 is going to be Friday the 13th. Plus it’s going to be a Full Moon and not only that, it’s going to be a Full Harvest Moon. It’s bouta be real spooky.”
Jose Herrera said: “Next Friday is Friday the 13th and it’s gonna be a Full Moon so if y’all see me in the woods dancing naked, mind your business.”
Alena Kiel said: “Anyway so my birthday is on Friday the 13th and there’s a Full Moon so I guess I’m gonna be extra powerful this year.”
And Cherri Carrigan tweeted: “The occurrence of a Full Moon on Friday 13th is actually pretty rare. It previously happened on October 13, 2000, and won’t happen again until August 13, 2049.
“So, grab a friend and head outside on Friday night! Who’s in?”
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When is the Full Harvest Moon in September this year?
Depending on where you live, the Full Moon will peak on Friday, September 13 or in the wee morning hours of Saturday, September 14.
This means the Harvest Moon precedes the Autumn Equinox by just nine days this year.
Here in the UK, the Harvest Moon will arrive around 5.32am BST (4.32am UTC).
In central and western parts of the US, however, the Harvest Moon will appear on Friday.
Old Farmers’ Almanac astronomer Joe Rao said: “The arrival of this year’s Harvest Moon will depend on which time zone you happen to live in.
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“If you live in the Eastern Time Zone, the moment the Moon turns full will occur just after midnight—at 12.33am – on Saturday, the 14th.
“But if you live elsewhere in the country—in the Central, Mountain, or Pacific time zones—the moment that the Moon turns full comes before midnight on Friday, the 13th.”
When viewed from Los Angeles, the Full Moon will peak around 9.32pm PDT.
Over Chicago, Illinois, the Full Moon will peak around 11.32pm CDT.
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Why is the Harvest Moon so special this year?
The appearance of a Full Moon on the unlucky date of Friday the 13th only happens once every 20 years.
The Harvest Moon will also peak during a so-called Micromoon when the lunar orb appears up to 14 percent smaller.
Mr Rao said: “To add to this Full Moon ‘madness’, this upcoming Full Moon very nearly coincides with apogee – that point in its orbit which places it at its greatest distance from the Earth: 252,100 miles away.
“Remember last February, when the Full Moon coincided with perigee, its closest point to Earth?
“The Moon was more than 30,000 miles closer and was accordingly branded a ‘Supermoon’.”