Two full moons to shine in October

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COLORADO SPRINGS — You can expect two full moons to rise in the sky in October. You’ll see the Harvest Moon on Thursday, followed by the rare Blue Moon on Halloween.

The first full moon, named the “Harvest Moon,” will make its appearance on Thursday, October 1.

“The harvest moon is the nearest full moon in date to the autumnal equinox. What that is, is in the past long ago the Native Americans used the moon, but they called it the Harvest Moon, to know when to harvest their crops,” Space Foundation Discovery Center’s Space Education Specialist Jeff Gonyea said.

He said it’s called the Harvest Moon because it was the full moon in September. This year it’s October 1.

The Harvest Moon is set to appear full to the naked eye for about three days.  

“On September 30 and October 2, more than 99 percent of the moon will be illuminated, so it’s almost like getting three days of a full moon,” said Gonyea. “The Native Americans labeled it the Harvest Moon because, with that extra light, they worked late into the night so that light from the full moon helped them work longer on those days together in their harvest.”

The next full moon, known as the Blue Moon, is the second full moon in the same calendar month.

According to Gonyea, there is a seasonal Blue Moon and there is a monthly Blue Moon. 

“In olden times they referred to the Blue Moon as the third full moon out of four in a season, so this autumn, September, October, and November is the autumn season,” he said. “September we had a full moon, October we’re getting two full moons, and then there’ll be a full moon in November. So that second one in October was referred to as the Blue Moon as well in olden times. We will get another one of those in August of the next year 2021.” 

But don’t let the name fool you.

“Is it going to be a blue moon up in the sky? Sorry everybody, no,” Gonyea said.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, the last time a full moon happened on Halloween night in all U.S. time zones was back in 1944.

“The phrase ‘once in a blue moon’ actually denotes a long period of time,” Gonyea said.

So make sure you’re looking into the night sky this month!

If you’re interested in learning more about the night sky and space, the Space Foundation Discovery Center will be restarting their Virtual Family Star Party on Tuesday, October 6.

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