When I went out Sunday morning (Oct. 16) for my pre-dawn bike ride around the neighborhood, it was to be greeted by a full moon so bright it cast shadows on the garage wall. Had I been so inclined, I probably could have read a book by the moonlight.
On our drive home the night before from an out-of-town trip, just at sunset, the huge, stunningly beautiful golden moon began peeking over the horizon. As it rose above the treetops, it became a brilliant, dazzling white, and lent a shimmering glow to the dark green pine forests, to hardwoods now beginning to display fall colors, and to crop fields now bare after harvest, with occasional mirrored reflections in a pond or lake.
Given that my particular area of the state hasn’t had rain going on eight weeks, with mostly cloudless skies, views of the moon and stars have been relatively unhindered for anyone willing to step outdoors and be enthralled anew by the splendor of the heavens.
In olden times, this October full moon was called the Hunter’s Moon, because it coincided with the time that deer and other game animals were fattening up for the winter, offering hunters a chance to bag food for the cold months ahead. The Old Farmers Almanac also called it Travel Moon and Dying Grass Moon.
Some in the astronomical community refer to the October full moon, when it’s closest to the Earth, as a “super moon” or mega-moon. Its technical name is Perigree Full Moon, but that doesn’t have quite the media pizazz of Super Moon.
It follows the Harvest Moon, the first full moon after the autumn equinox. The Harvest Moon usually occurs in September, but sometimes can be in early October. It was so called because its brightness allowed farmers to extend their harvesting activity into the evening hours. Now, with modern equipment, lights, and guidance systems, the bright moon just provides an inspiring backdrop for after-dark harvest work.
Although the peak of the Hunter’s Moon/Super Moon was Sunday night (Oct. 16) at 11:23 CDT, the brighter, larger Super Moon can be enjoyed for another night or so. It looks like visibility will not be a problem over much of the Mid-South.
There will be two more Super Moons this year, Nov. 14 and Dec. 14, but visibility can be iffy in the winter months.
So tonight, take a break from football, political wrangling, and “reality” shows and go outside and revel in the wonder and beauty of the heavenly reality show.
(Moonrise Monday night, Oct. 17, is at 7:56 p.m. CDT; Tuesday night, Oct. 18, is at 8:46 p.m. CDT.)