The moon will appear larger than usual — but it's just an illusion.
Sky watchers will be in for a treat as the full Harvest Moon, which usually only appears in September, will make a rare appearance this Thursday, October 5.
According to Space.com, the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon closest to the autumn equinox, will actually be 100 percent full at 2:40 p.m. EDT, meaning if you live in the continental United States you’ll unfortunately miss its totality — however, it will still be nearly full as it rises in the sky at night.
As Space.com additionally reported, the naming of moons began several hundred years ago with Native Americans living in the Northern and Eastern United States. The autumn equinox full moon gained its moniker, “Harvest Moon,” because it came just as farmers were ending their yearly harvest. The last full moon of the season also allowed farmers to stay out a bit later to tend to their crops thanks to its magnificent and bright light.
And although the moon will appear bigger, it’s just your eyes playing tricks on you. According to EarthSky, this is a phenomenon known as “the Moon Illusion.”
Moreover, this moon is special because it also happens to rise at about the same time the sun sets.
Other full moon names include the Full Beaver Moon, which will occur in early November. It gained its name because this happens to be the time of year when Native American tribes set their beaver traps. In December, sky watchers can also keep an eye out for the Cold Moon, which will rise on December 3. That moon gained its name from the rapidly dropping temperatures of the season. The Cold Moon is also often referred to as the Full Long Nights Moon, as nights are much longer during this time of year.
Beyond looking up on Thursday evening to appreciate the moon’s spectacular fall light, several communities around the United States will have special events for both the moon and to celebrate the start of the fall season. Check out Travel + Leisure’s list of the best fall festivals in each state and start your planning.