Look up: Tonight's Sky Will Reveal a Harvest (and Micro!) Moon

Just in time for Friday the 13th.

click to enlarge Look up: Tonight's Sky Will Reveal a Harvest (and Micro!) Moon
Kentrick Mills

It's Friday the 13th and, for most of the United States, this spooky holiday comes with an added dose of superstition this year: A full harvest moon. Jason, where you at? 

According to the Famers' Almanac, the Harvest Moon (the real deal, not the video game!) marks the nearest full moon to the autumnal equinox, aka the official ushering in of fall, which lands on Sept. 23 this year. For those in literally every part of the country except for the Eastern Time Zone, the moment the moon turns full will land on Friday the 13th, an occurrence that won't happen again until 2049.

For easter-coasters (and Cincinnatians), that moment will come just after midnight (12:33 a.m.) on (technically) Saturday. Buzzkill, I know. Unless, of course, you'd rather not have more bad luck vibes piled on this evening. 

Like a premature Jack O' Lantern in the sky, the harvest moon's brightness and orange/yellow/red hues are merely a trick of the eye. Because the path of the moon during this time of the year is as close to the horizon as possible, onlookers are seeing it through a thicker layer of Earth's atmosphere, in comparison to looking straight above. This also explains how the celestial phenomenon got its name: the brightness of the moonlight allowed farmers to continue harvesting their crops, despite the sun having already set.

To throw a wrench into things, tonight also marks a "micro moon." This iteration will appear 14 percent smaller than February's spectacularly large supermoon, according to Farmers' Almanac, because it will have nearly reached apogee, meaning the moon's farthest point of orbit — 252,100 miles — from Earth. 

With a forecast for cloudy weather and a 30 percent chance for thunderstorms, things should be extra eerie tonight — steer clear of spooky campgrounds, lakes and creepy dudes wearing hockey masks.

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