What Does A Harvest Moon Mean?

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Last Updated on February 11, 2022 by

What does a harvest moon mean, and what information does it bring about seasons changing? Let’s delve into this fun topic and learn a few things about it.

Did you know in 2021the harvest moon will rise on Monday, September 20?  During this time, starting Sunday morning through Tuesday morning, the moon will rise fully.

But why does this happen each year?  Let’s learn more about this moon and its meaning.

What Is The Harvest Moon?

It is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox.  It is also the official start of fall. The specific date of the harvest moon varies from year to year and can occur either in September or October.

What Is The Harvest Moon

So Why Is It Called So?

Harvest Moon is just a name, just like the full moon or half-moon.  However, these autumn full moons do have special characteristics that are related to the time of moonrise.

Nature is specifically cooperative in giving us dusk-till-dawn moonlight for numerous evenings in a row when it’s around the time of the Harvest Moon.

On average, the full moon consistently rises around sunset about 50 minutes late each day. However, when a full moon happens close to the autumn equinox, the full moon changes its rising time on the following nights, rising closer to the time of sunset.

For the mid-temperate latitude areas, the full moon rises only about 20 to 25 minutes later each day for several days before and after the full Harvest Moon.

For the very high northern latitudes, there is an even lesser time between successive moonrises.  The farther north you live, you will notice the greater the Harvest moon effect.

Though the difference between 50 minutes and 25 minutes might not seem much, you will see the moon ascending in the East soon after sunset in the nights after a full Harvest Moon.  The moon will then rise during or near the twilight hours on these nights, bringing dusk-till-dawn moonlight for numerous nights in a row during the time of this moon.

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How Did It Get Its Name?

This moon got its name probably sprang from the lips of farmers throughout the northern hemisphere when they saw its magnificent sight.

However, the name was popularized in the early 20th century by the song “Shine on Harvest Moon by Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth in 1903.

Shine on, shine on harvest moon
Up in the sky,
I ain’t had no lovin’
Since January, February, June or July
Snowtime ain’t no time to stay
Outdoors and spoon,
So shine on, shine on harvest moon,
For me and my gal.

Hello, Harvest Moon

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The name harvest moon stuck as it gave farmers lots of bright moonlight in the early evenings as they harvested their crops.

The harvest moon rises almost immediately after sunset for several nights, allowing farmers to work a little later than other evenings.  This season is unique and breathtaking to watch among other full moons that come in across the year.

What Does The Harvest Moon Look Like?

The harvest moon is stunning!  Compared to the normal moon, it appears bigger, brighter, or a deeper orange when you look at it right after sunset when it’s very close to the horizon.

It has a gorgeous, breathtaking sight that is a visual trick called “the moon illusion”.

It happens right when birds are migrating south for the winter.  Depending on where you live, you might be able to see these birds fly by the full moon and get a truly stunning sight.

Why Is It Bigger, Brighter And More Colourful?

The harvest moon appears bigger, brighter, and more colourful than the full moon because it has a powerful mystique. The moon’s orbit around the earth is not a perfect circle, and the Harvest Moon’s distance from Earth differs from year to year.

This moon is not necessarily closer to the earth than any other full moon, and the size depends on the year.  In 2021, is it expected to be pretty much an average-sized full moon?

Why Is It Bigger, Brighter And More Colourful

That said, you might think that the harvest moon always looks bigger and brighter than the other moon because it holds such a powerful mystique.

Most people like to admire this moon shortly after sunset around the time of the full moon.  During the full moon, after sunset, the moon will always be near the horizon that has just risen.  The moon’s location near the horizon causes the harvest moon to look bigger, brighter and a deeper orange.

The orange colour of the moon that is near the horizon is a true physical effect. It comes from the effect of looking towards the horizon at a greater thickness of Earth’s atmosphere than when you look overhead. The bigger-than-usual size of the moon near the horizon is your eyes playing tricks on you.  This is known as the moon illusion, and you can research more on the internet about it to understand it better.

When Is The 2021 Harvest Moon Expected?

The exact time of the full 2021 Harvest Moon is September 20 at 23:54 Universal time.  In the US timezones this translates to 7:54 p.m. EDT, 8:54 p.m. ADT, 6:54 p.m. CDT, 4:54 p.m. PDT, 3:54 p.m Alaskan Time, 5:54 p.m. MDT, and 1:54 p.m. Hawaiian Time.

Do you see your timing up above?  Get ready to watch this moon in late September.

When Is The 2021 Harvest Moon Expected


What is a harvest moon?

The Harvest Moon occurs when the Moon is at its closest to Earth (perigee) and, due to the orbit of the Moon, this happens every month, about two weeks after perigee. The Moon reaches apogee at full moon, then starts its descent back towards perigee.

The Harvest Moon is the time of year when all of nature is at its most bountiful. The crops are ready for harvest, the animals have grown large and healthy, and the weather has been kind to the farmer's crops.

What does a Harvest Moon symbolize?

he Harvest Moon is a symbol of the moon, which represents intuition. When we look at the moon, we see the reflection of the sun, and therefore, we are able to perceive the truth that we have within us. When we do not have our intuition, we cannot see this truth. A harvest moon signifies the new beginning, because it is the time of year when the seeds are ready to be harvested.

The Harvest Moon is also known as the Full Moon. The word full is the Latin form of the word fultum, which means “full of”. Full moons are seen as the perfect time to harvest all of the good intentions that we have been working on throughout the year. They are also seen as a time when we can take advantage of the bounty that the universe has given us.
In Japan, the “harvest” moon is known as the “moon of good fortune.” It’s a full moon that falls on the day of the year when people harvest crops and animals in their homes.

How does the Harvest Moon affect us?

The Harvest Moon is a time when we all reflect on what is important in our lives. It is a time for us to give thanks for all that we have and to take stock of how far we’ve come. It is a time to remember those who have gone before us and those who will come after us.

It is a time to celebrate together as one family. The Harvest Moon Festival has been celebrated in various forms throughout the history of Japan, including the festivals of Obon and Shichi-go-san. The first written records of the Harvest Moon festival can be found in the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters) and Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan).


Nature is beautiful and interesting and to learn what this moon means is one of the fascinating things to do.  It feels like we are studying astronomy, and how cool can this be?

Sometimes we don’t have to learn serious things that make us sweat a little, but fun things that give us general knowledge are great to study.

And studying about the moon is one incredible thing we all love because we always gaze at it with all the beautiful wishes we can think of.   Moon nights have been the best nights that people in love enjoy more than the rainy ones.

Do enjoy watching the harvest moon as it comes, won’t you?

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