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Micro moon! Harvest moon! Friday the 13th! Our endless lunar obsession, explained

Micro moon! Harvest moon! Friday the 13th! Our endless lunar obsession, explained
[Photo: ISS/NASA]

There’s a certain corner of the internet that is very excited for night to fall. This time the excitement extends beyond sky-gazing Twitter and astronomy subreddits, because there is a lot going on with the moon this evening, so keep your black cats indoors.

We’ll try to break it down as simply as possible.

  • First: It’s a full moon, which is always good for covens and werepeople. Then, because this full moon is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox (September 23), it’s known as a “Harvest Moon,” and farmers need a little boost in the midst of the Trump trade war.
  • That’s not all, though: It’s a full moon that happens to fall on Friday the 13th, so it’s extra spooky, especially if you happen to have triskaidekaphobia. A full moon hasn’t been visible on Friday the 13th in the U.S. since October 13, 2000, according to the Farmers’ Almanac. The next one isn’t expected to happen again for another 30 years, on August 13, 2049, so start planning your coven meeting today.
  • But wait, there’s more: The full moon that will rise this evening is split among time zones. That means that people who live in the Eastern time zone will be robbed of having a Friday the 13th full moon, because the moment the moon turns full will actually take place after midnight. Specifically, at 12:33 a.m. on Saturday, September 14, according to NASA. For those in the Central, Mountain, or Pacific time zones, the moment the moon becomes full will be before midnight on Friday 13th.
  • Yes, there’s still more: If you haven’t already absconded to Twitter to share your moon-watching plans, be aware that tonight’s moon is also a micro moon. It will seem just a bit dimmer than usual, because it is at its farthest distance from Earth, known as apogee. Check out this NASA side-by-side comparison of the moon at perigee and apogee to see how the moon might look.
  • One last thing: The other bit of news that has “moon Twitter” excited is a proposal of a Spaceline moon elevator to connect Earth to the moon.

In short, if you’re a fan of the moon, there is a lot to tweet about.

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