Following last month’s rare blue supermoon we’re in for another astronomical spectacle in quick succession.
A ‘harvest moon’ is rolling into town and hitting up Chicago skies marking the last supermoon of 2023.
This year, we’ll be able to glimpse the brilliant annual phenomena for three nights as Chicago begins its transition from summer to fall.
Keep reading for all you need to know!
What is a supermoon?
According to NASA, a supermoon happens when the moon reaches its closest point to Earth, coinciding with its full phase, known as ‘perigee’ in astronomical terms.
Astrologer Richard Nolle, credited with coining the term, defines a full moon or new moon as a supermoon if it occurs when the moon is within 90 percent of its nearest distance to Earth. This results in the moon appearing significantly brighter and larger than its regular size.
When at its perigee, the moon can appear up to 15% larger than it does at its farthest point from Earth, known as ‘the apogee’), and about 6-7% larger than an average full moon. Supermoons usually happen about 3 to 4 times each year.
Why is the Harvest Moon special?
This month’s full moon is the closest full moon to the September equinox and is consequently known as Harvest Moon for rising around the time when lots of crops in the Northern Hemisphere reach their peak. Most years the Harvest Moon falls in September, though it can also appear in October.
The moon provides a few days of bright moonlight right after sunset, which traditionally helped farmers have a bit more time to bring in their crops in advance of the first frost.
According to NASA, the name ‘Harvest Moon’ is an old European name that the Oxford English Dictionary mentions was first used in 1706 when Maine Farmers Almanac published older native-American names for full moons.
The Algonquin tribes in what is now the northeastern USA reportedly had several names for it including Travel Moon, the Dying Grass Moon, or the Sanguine or Blood Moon. The names relate to the turning of the leaves and dying back of plants with the start of fall.
Though this supermoon will not have anything extra on previous supermoons it is particularly worth seeing as it will be the fourth and final supermoon of the year.
So, set your alarms and take it in while you can from Thursday, September 28, to Saturday, September 30.
When can you see the Harvest Moon in Chicago?
According to Time and Date, the Harvest Moon will reach its peak illumination of 99% on Friday, September 29 and Almanac states that the exact minute of its peak will be the wee hours of 4:58 am. Having said that to us it will be equally as extraordinary any time after dark on that Friday.
The moon will rise at 18:55 on Friday, September 29, and set at 08:09 on Saturday, September 30. As the sun sets at 18:35 on Friday and rises again at 06:46 on Saturday there are plenty of dark hours to view the supermoon with the best being around midnight.
Here are the phases of the Moon for September.
For those wanting to make an event of it, or photographers hoping to catch the clearest shot, it is best to head as far away as you can from artificial lighting by finding a secluded area that isn’t affected by light pollution from city lights.
Check out this light pollution map to find a dark sky near you!
[Feature image from Shutterstock]