This week is the “harvest moon.” What does this mean exactly, and what is the “hunter moon” that comes next?

The gigantic, orange globe sitting on the horizon may look like a celestial pumpkin, but it will actually be the harvest moon. (It is also known as the wine moon, the singing moon, or the elk call moon.)

The harvest moon happens once a year. It is the full moon nearest to the autumnal equinox. This lunar phenomenon is often mistaken for the hunter’s moon.  The hunter’s moon, which is also known as the blood or

sanguinemoon, is the first full moon after the harvest moon.

All full moons make their appearance around the time of sunset. But unlike the ascension of other full moons, there is no period of darkness between sunset and the moonrise of the harvest moon.

This special moon got its name because the immediate moonlight allowed farmers to continue harvesting even after the sun had set.

(If you ever get an email claiming that it will look like there are two moons in the sky, arm yourself with information; here’s the real story.)

The harvest moon can seem larger, brighter, more colorful, and just all around more dramatic than the moon we’re used to seeing. The lovely, autumn color of the harvest on the horizon is caused by light from the moon passing through a greater amount of atmospheric particles. This is true for all celestial bodies when they are low in the sky.

Don’t be alarmed if you experience what’s known as Moon Illusion. This is an optical illusion noted since ancient times where the moon appears larger closer to the horizon than it does higher up in the sky.

On lunar topics, consider the word honeymoon. What does the “moon” part of it actually refer to? It’s not a happy story, but it is fun. Learn the answer, here.


  1. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  November 21, 2013 - 4:58 am

    I saw the harvest moon. Why do moons look bigger and brighter in movies than they do in real life?

    If any of you are wondering, a wolf moon is a full moon that is bright enough for wolves to hunt by.

    • maggie -  September 14, 2016 - 9:59 am

      you cant tame wolves…..you can gentel them, they can be a part of your pack, they can love you….but you can NEVER tame a wild animal..it is a contract….all wolf nations know this…fyi

      • steve -  September 16, 2016 - 5:22 pm

        Can’t tame wolves? Never? I am sorry and mean you no disrespect but the the entire lineage of “Dogs” originates from wolves who produced less stress hormones allowing them to get close to and befriend humans securing their survival which in turn allowed humans to domesticate, train and breed many different types of dogs to serve various purposes continuing to this day. However, referring to training a wild grown wolf wouldn’t be advisable as ANY wild animal or domesticated can resort to its feral state and be exactly what it is, an animal…fyi

  2. ethan -  October 1, 2012 - 12:10 pm

    awesome !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ooooo, orange moon!

  3. Maarire -  September 30, 2012 - 11:07 pm

    I am a student at high school and was in my class studying, popped onthesaurus and found this information on the “harvest moon” .. although i attend class learning that made me excited for saturday (:
    thankyou .

    • Jordan -  March 24, 2016 - 7:20 pm

      That must have been a really good school day :) : )

    • Kitten -  March 24, 2016 - 7:27 pm

      T]hat must have been a really good school day. : (

  4. Mahself -  September 30, 2012 - 1:42 pm

    I saw this! It was beautiful… *sigh*

  5. Sammy -  September 28, 2012 - 5:37 pm

    When I was little i had a Moon Illusion when the moon was really close up and i thought it was a dream!! I still hope I can see it tomorrow night because it is supposed to be storming!!!

  6. johns -  September 28, 2012 - 1:26 pm

    another biblical legend exposed.

  7. Perlinnifsnew -  February 9, 2011 - 3:49 pm

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  8. The all american girl-next-door!!! -  September 27, 2010 - 6:50 am

    Hey if you look at a full moon really closely you can see what looks like a woman holding her baby!!!!!!!!!! No lie you can!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Kitten -  March 24, 2016 - 7:24 pm

      That must be really cool. :) : (

  9. Junfan Mantovani -  September 27, 2010 - 4:08 am

    The moon is getting closer soon, it will be amazing, we will rock you.

  10. Parch -  September 24, 2010 - 6:14 am

    What evidence is there of a higher birthrate on nights with a full moon? Every nurse i speak with swears that every single full moon they are overcrowded with women in labor.

    Police often report that nights with full moons lead to many more arrests, as well. What effect does a full moon have on human behavior?

  11. Harvest Moon -  September 24, 2010 - 2:38 am

    It was raining last night and cloudy today, so let’s see for tomorrow.

  12. Things I Like Thursday « mylifeasateacup -  September 23, 2010 - 7:47 pm

    [...] differentiation between the Harvest and what’s known as the “Blood Moon” over here. Not to mention this year’s also fell on the autumnal [...]

  13. Bedazz'elle -  September 23, 2010 - 2:29 pm


  14. Ray Butler -  September 23, 2010 - 8:06 am

    Oh dear. I’m an astronomer (not astrologer…NOT ASTROLOGER!) and I’m wincing at some of what I’m reading here – starting with the Hotword introduction itself!

    This Hotword entry is inaccurate, or at least misleading, on key points.

    * There will NOT be anything unusual about this month’s Full moon. It’s just another full moon. It will not be bigger, more colourful, or timed to rise any differently between daylight and darkness than usual (its exact rising time varies throughout the year with its orbital configuration and where on Earth you happen to be).

    * The article also misses the whole point about what makes the Harvest Moon useful to harvesting farmers, and why it got its name!
    “But unlike the ascension of other full moons, there is no period of darkness between sunset and the moonrise of the harvest moon.”
    No, afraid not! It is not the night of Full moon that matters – it is actually the 2 or 3 nights following Full Moon which are the interesting ones. On Autumn evenings, the shallow inclination of the ecliptic (roughly, the Moon’s path) with the Eastern horizon, and the Moon’s northly motion in declination on this part of the ecliptic, is such that there is a particularly short gap between sunset and moonrise on the nights _following_ full moon. So it still rises in twilight even as it is waning on these nights, and thus provides continuity to the illumination of the farmland.

    You see the same effect in August and October, but somewhat less pronounced.

    We do not experience this effect in any other season, because the angle between ecliptic and horizon, and the moon’s motion in declination (north or south direction), are both less favourable.

    If you want to explore all this easily for yourself, download a free planetarium program, such as the excellent Stellarium.

  15. Wendy -  September 23, 2010 - 2:05 am

    i’ve watched the moon last night. Its awesome..i’ll keep an eye tonights moon as well.

  16. Dustin -  September 22, 2010 - 8:58 pm

    Looked like a regular ol’ moon, smaller actually it looked like to me..

  17. Harvest Moon -  September 22, 2010 - 6:25 pm

    Seeing a full moon by chance has always amazing enough for me to gaze it for a while without any thought. This year’s Harvest Moon I only noticed was already high in the sky and was very bright yet small.

  18. Trenton Ascah -  September 22, 2010 - 5:49 pm

    Hey thx so much for that article on the harvest moon im doing a project for school and i think i will be getting an A++++ now thank you once again!!!!!!!!!! :)

  19. Sarah -  September 22, 2010 - 2:12 pm

    That’s good to know, Greg…what part of the sky was it in, and what time zone are you in (if you happen to come back and read comments, hehe)? I plan to keep an eye out for it tonight, as well as Thursday…when the Full Moon will be official. I’m sure all these surrounding nights and early mornings will be showing quite a beautiful moon… =)

  20. LiL Jo$hu@ -  September 22, 2010 - 11:55 am

    Zim yu got a good point and chill wit your gurl til yu fall asleep….. i bet yu could catch alot of catfish that night tho,cause at night thats the best time to fish for catfish…………….

  21. Greg -  September 22, 2010 - 8:31 am

    Went running this morning and saw the big beautiful moon hanging above the hills! Awesome!

  22. Emi -  September 21, 2010 - 9:28 pm

    I love the full moon, I’ll keep an eye out for it!

  23. Jennifer -  September 21, 2010 - 4:27 pm

    imma tell my class about tis !!!! =D

  24. Sarah -  September 21, 2010 - 3:00 pm

    For those who are unsure of when in fact the Harvest Moon will be, use this as your guide: the Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs closest to the fall equinox. As I was searching, which wasn’t all that necessary if we remember the article above clearly states “It is the full moon nearest to the autumnal equinox. This year the equinox falls on the Wednesday, September 22nd, so the two events will be awfully close.” Knowing that this month’s Full Moon is said to be on September 23rd…that’s why this article says 2010′s Harvest Moon will happen Thursday, September 23rd. So…when mentioned above in comments that it was on September 13th…well that simply doesn’t make sense, since there most definitely wasn’t a Full Moon that day…hehe…it was in the middle of it’s cycle at that point. Searching for a Full Moon Calendar on line, or using a calendar at home that shows when the full moon is, around this time of year (usually September, rare occasions October) and keeping in mind the Autumnal Equinox (usually either September 22nd, or 23rd)…you can easily find out when the Harvest Moon will be… =)

  25. hypnoblonde -  September 21, 2010 - 2:49 pm

    This is a powerful week astrologically… on Monday Mercury went direct and this three weeks of Mercury retrograde seemed to have effect on most around me.
    Then we have the autumnal equinox… a wonderful time of giving thanks for what the growing season has been for us this year and not just in the way of growing plants…but growing in life.
    And ending the week with a wonderful full moon.
    Thank you for this article on the full moon.

  26. CALL ME MR TIBBS -  September 21, 2010 - 2:47 pm


  27. Juniper -  September 21, 2010 - 2:25 pm

    The Harvest Moon is so AWESOME!
    (And I bet you my moon cake it’s NOT fake, LiL Jo$hu@, so get used to it.)
    Back at home, they’re probably preparing for the mid-autumn festival!
    I’m missing out on so much…

  28. Sarah -  September 21, 2010 - 2:25 pm

    I think those links have problems intermittently, cause I first couldn’t get the “2 moons in the sky”…but tried again just now and it worked. For those who can’t view it, it basically says this:

    “There’s an email going around that claims on Friday night, the sky will look as though there are two big moons. Allegedly, Mars will be so large that it will rival Luna (the official name of our lovely moon.) Here’s the problem: this email has been circulating since 2003. In reality, on Friday the red planet will appear approximately 400 times smaller than the moon.” (…then goes into how Mars got it’s name, and more information on the planet…) Then finishes with this: “While the “two moons” email is an annoying hoax, we have something to make up for your disappointment: the history of the word “hoax” involves goblins, jugglers, and lots of controversy. Get the true story, here.” (obviously providing a link to the word “hoax”)

    The “honeymoon” link (for those who can’t get it to work) basically says this:

    “The word derives from the Old English hony moone. Hony refers to the new marriage’s sweetness, as well a reference to the European custom of giving newlyweds enough mead, “an alcoholic liquor made by fermenting honey and water,” to last a month. That would keep many a couple happy. Moon refers to how long that sweetness might probably last, or from the changing aspect of the moon — from full to waning. In French the equivalent word is lune de miel. The German version is flitterwhochen, from flitter, which means “tinsel.” Not exactly the type of positive thinking a couples counselor would recommend, is it?” (…and goes on to explore other wedding related terms and their origins…)

    Hope that helps for those who are having trouble! And if you really want to try to view the whole article, copy and paste these two links directly into your web browser’s address bar:


    Other than that, I think it’s an intermittent problem…those are never fun!

  29. Barbara -  September 21, 2010 - 2:10 pm

    Very imformative. And I was able to connect to the honeymoon section, too. If you ssee this Charolotte, try it again.

  30. Sarah -  September 21, 2010 - 2:08 pm

    While I can intellectually grasp that the “Moon Illusion” is true (especially after reading the link to it with all those technical terms)…my eyes will always believe those like the Harvest Moon, low to the horizon, ARE bigger than when they are up high in the sky…hehe! Now I’ve got to research this “when the Harvest Moon is/was for 2010″!

    By the way, the “honeymoon” link does work now…it IS funny, and unfortunately true all too often…heh!

    Thanks for the information Bickle…I want a mooncake! And it was fun looking up what 中秋节快乐 translates to in English: Happy Mooncake Festival / Happy Mid-Autumn Day…is what I gathered!

    Happy Fall Everyone!!!

  31. Rob Poole -  September 21, 2010 - 1:05 pm

    Pity that the links purporting to explain the Moon-Mars hoax and the word honeymoon are both broken. Results come up as “Nothing found for Beware-hoax-moon-and-mars” and “Nothing found for honeymoon.” Which makes me especially curious about the supposed “Not a happy story” surrounding honeymoon.

    Especially since, according to what I have been told by Icelandic friends (and corroborated through independent research), the word “honeymoon” seems to be a reference to the Viking practice of sending a newleywed couple off with a full cask of mead in order to celebrate for one month — one “moon,” since the word month comes from the duration of the moon’s cycle. Mead is, of course, made from the fermentation of honey.

    I suppose some etymologists might disagree with that proposed word origin, but I haven’t heard or read a better or more plausible one since.

  32. Robert & Vicky Nevarez -  September 21, 2010 - 12:26 pm

    I read on another website that the Harvest Moon happened on September 13,2010. So did it already happen is it happening on the 24th?

  33. laura -  September 21, 2010 - 12:25 pm

    I agree with you too Zim, and not only when the moon is up, because then you have the stars. When the nights are mild it’s so lovely to be outside!

  34. LiL Jo$hu@ -  September 21, 2010 - 12:24 pm

    :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) full moon baby………….

  35. LiL Jo$hu@ -  September 21, 2010 - 12:22 pm

    ya if this moon shows Thursday i will believe it but if it dont i think its all fake and just talk…………………..

  36. Robert & Vicky Nevarez -  September 21, 2010 - 12:16 pm

    Dear Dictionary.com I read on another website that the Harvest Moon happened on September 13,2010. Is this True?Please let me know or can someone else post a comment Please I would really like to show my children. Thank You!

  37. Read More Carefully -  September 21, 2010 - 12:13 pm

    “All full moons make their appearance around the time of sunset.” Note “make their APPEARANCE,” it’s not saying that is the only time a full moon occurs.

  38. Bickle -  September 21, 2010 - 12:07 pm

    Here in China, the harvest moon is celebrated as the mid-Autumn festival. Stuffed pastries called mooncakes are eaten everywhere. Folks visit their families if possible. 中秋节快乐!

  39. Rajarshi Purkayastha -  September 21, 2010 - 12:07 pm

    This is really a nice and new piece of information. Honestly, never heard of this. However, this year will watch closely. Bye.

  40. Mr. Raymond Kenneth Petry -  September 21, 2010 - 11:49 am

    HALF NONSENSE: A full moon occurs when the sun is exactly opposite, And– That can be _ANY_TIME_ of the night… not closer to sunset than sunrise.

    BLOOD MOON: prob. from a lunar eclipse.


  41. Jason -  September 21, 2010 - 11:41 am

    really no darkness from the time period of the sunset to the appearance of the harvest moon? wow. cant wait to see it. unbelievable.

  42. gadfly -  September 21, 2010 - 11:34 am

    The links pertaining to “honeymoon” give “nothing found for honeymoon”.

  43. Gex -  September 21, 2010 - 11:26 am

    I agree with you Zim.

  44. Dean Blackstone -  September 21, 2010 - 11:24 am

    I must admit I’m a total newbie to anything to do with lunar cycles and such like, but I’m getting more interested in the subject so appreciated this article.

    I’m glad there was a mention of ‘Moon Illusion’ too – something I’ve observed but didn’t know the whys or wherefores until now.

  45. Zim -  September 21, 2010 - 11:23 am

    The moon looks so peaceful, makes me want to camp outside an stare at it till I fall asleep.

  46. harvest moon 2 | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  September 21, 2010 - 11:18 am

    [...] very hard to keep track of so many a harvest moon — The White Tailed Deer are mating and the Hunters will kill them soon. — First with a [...]

  47. Daggi -  September 21, 2010 - 11:15 am

    Also a great track by Neil Young..

  48. Milli -  September 21, 2010 - 11:11 am

    I remember seeing this last year. It was awesome! :D

  49. Gary -  September 21, 2010 - 10:59 am

    Don’t bother looking for the “Honeymoon” info…its not there…

  50. word of the day -  September 21, 2010 - 10:43 am

    Dear dicitonary.com

    i would like to thank you for heeding to my suggestions. Your new tab on flashcards is extremely beneficial and encouraging for logophiles.
    But yet there is no forum to leave comments so I am dropping one here.

  51. HARVEST MOON | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  September 21, 2010 - 10:41 am

    [...] ON, shine on “HARVEST MOON” for the sake of keeping labels — Have another glass of wine and fresh food upon the tables. — Now the harvest is all [...]

  52. LT -  September 21, 2010 - 10:38 am

    Cousin IT really is “Deja Vu all over again.”

  53. ughhhhhhhhhh -  September 21, 2010 - 10:36 am

    i love the moon and things like that. It is so neat to me.

  54. Brandi -  September 21, 2010 - 10:32 am

    I read this somewhere but haven’t actually tried it yet… To diffuse the ‘moon illusion’, look at the moon from upside down. Either way, I’d still like to think that it’s much larger at moon rise!

  55. Ben -  September 21, 2010 - 10:28 am

    There is a song that mentioned the ‘Harvest moon’. I figured what it meant and after reading it, I was right. Learned a few things about it too. Does not miss light.

    “I don’t believe you’ve met my baby”.

    Excerpts: …I dreamed I was strolling in the evening,
    underneath the harvest moon, but another was there too,
    I don’t believe you’ve met my baby…
    Not sure who wrote it, but sung by Jim and Jesse and the Virgina Boys.

  56. louis paiz -  September 21, 2010 - 10:05 am

    i am a poet so i love not only the moon but also the sun, i always whait for the moon that you are reffering every year there is an old big oak at front of my house where it seems that she is spying to me and my wife. it is a unique view.

  57. Charlotte -  September 21, 2010 - 9:58 am

    Wonderful, thanks so much for this! However, your link to the honeymoon page doesn’t work. I got an error message saying it found nothing for the word honeymoon. Thought I should let you know. :)

  58. nanaz -  September 21, 2010 - 9:50 am

    love moon so much….


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