PICKENS COUNTY — If you were outside anytime after dark on Thursday, you probably noticed the full moon shining brightly in the sky.
But what you might not have known was it wasn’t just any moon. It was the Harvest Moon — and it was the first time in almost a decade the event occurred in October.
According to NASA, the “Harvest Moon” is simply the term used for the full moon that falls closest to the Autumnal Equinox. It was so named because farmers could work later in the fields thanks to the moon’s reflected light.
Among other names, it’s also called the “Barley Moon.”
Because the moon’s phase cycles do not match precisely up with the Gregorian (solar based) calendar, although the Harvest Moon usually shows up around Sept. 22, appearances in October do happen.
Chances are roughly one in four, NASA states.
Depending on where in the world you’re from, the Harvest Moon can go by many different names: In India, Sharad Purnima or Kojaagari Purnima is a harvest festival celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu lunar month of Ashvin.
The event marks the end to the rainy season and is a traditional celebration.
A bit closer to home? Well, NASA states it was The Maine Farmer’s Almanac that first published Native American names for the full moons around the 1930’s.
“According to this almanac, the Algonquin tribes of what is now the northern and eastern United States named the first full moon of fall the Travel Moon, Dying Grass Moon and the Sanguine or Blood Moon.”
Historians suspect the names Dying Grass, Sanguine and Blood Moon are meant to be related to natural events that occur in the Fall: the changing colors of the leaves and dying back of grasses and other plants.
“I have read that the name ‘Travel Moon’ comes from observing the migration of birds and other animals preparing for the winter,” said a NASA spokesperson. “I don’t know, but my guess is this name may also refer to the season when the more northern tribes would move down from the mountains for the winter. For example, both the Iroquois and Algonquin would hunt in the Adirondacks in the summertime but would leave for winter.”
Whatever you end up calling it, the last time the Harvest Moon rose in the 10th month was Oct. 4, 2009.
As for the next time? Well, NASA says you’ll just have to wait until 2020 when it will rise again on Oct. 1.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.