All who live in the Northern Hemisphere, during the night of Oct.18-19, 2013 will see a full moon which bears the folklore name of the Hunter’s Moon. It is the one which comes after the Sept. 22 Harvest Moon. That is a full moon which comes on the autumnal equinox. This year, it fell on Sept. 19, so the full moon tonight bears the name of Hunter. In addition, an eclipse is also slated to fall tonight, but, it might be so sight to see, if one is not paying close attention one could miss it.
Down in the Southern Hemisphere, this will be the very first spring full moon. Back last month, the equinox ushered in the spring season to the southern half of the Earth.
Be on the lookout for the Hunter’s Moon tonight as it rises in the east the same time the sun is sinking in the west. Just like any other full moon, it will shine all night through and soar the highest in the night sky around midnight. The moon will then set in the west about sunrise.
To catch a chance of the eclipse, the best places to be will be in Europe and Africa. They will have the greatest chance of seeing the Earth’s shadow faintly darkening the south part of the moon. But other parts of the world will get a chance to experience it as well. In fact, as the moon rises in the east Friday evening, Oct. 18, all across the continental United States, the lunar orb will be somewhat covered by the Earth’s dim shadow. This Hunter’s Moon will definitely undergo a faint lunar eclipse.
Yet, there may not be any notice of any type of darkening at all on the moon if it is being viewed from any of the American areas. This is because, as the eclipse is happening, anyone in these areas will be viewing the moon very low in the sky. They will be seeing it more through atmosphere conditions than when they see it high in the sky. This kind of eclipse is subtle at best, so it may not be noticeable.
Africa and Europe are in better areas because the eclipse happens later at night. However, for the majority of Asia the moon will be in its eclipse as it sets at sunrise on Saturday morning.
But, do not be expecting a normal eclipse. It will never appear as if the moon has a bite taken out of it. The best this subtle eclipse will give is the slight shade at the south end of the moon.
The Hunter’s Moon comes only in the fall, so named because this is the time when many would be hunting, preparing for the upcoming winter. In the North, it mainly falls in October, although it might arrive in early November, but this is rare. In the South, below the equator, a full moon like the Hunter’s Moon arrives in April or May, right before their winter begins.
The autumn full moons do have differences from the other full moons of the year. That is due to the fall; the sun, moon, and planets paths all create a narrower angle with the evening skyline. This causes several sky spectacles. One being the position of the moonrise on the horizon; for a fall full moon is conspicuously farther north along the eastern horizon for several nights in sequence.
This northern movement of the moon along the eastern skyline during moonrise for several days in a row, helps gives the Hunter’s Moon a kind of magical autumn glow. And, tonight with both a Hunter’s moon and an eclipse in one evening, there might be real magic in the air.
Written by: Kimberly Ruble