How Super is Tonight’s Full Harvest Moon?

September 8, 2014, 10:35 AM HST · Updated September 8, 1:35 PM
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Moon. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Moon. File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

In the wake of last month’s super moon on August 10, some are questioning what type of moon is on the horizon tonight.

The moon will reach its full phase at 3:38 p.m. HST today in Wailuku, Maui, and is set to rise at 6:29 p.m., according to TimeAndDate.com.

The Hawaiian Moon Calendar, Kaulana Mahina 2014, compiled by Kalei Nuuhiwa describes the September 8th moon as an Akua or Hoku moon, which usually depends on where you observe the moon and what it looks like in the sky from your vantage. The calendar notes that this is a good time for planting under the light of the full moon.

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According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, today’s moon is consistent with the Harvest Moon description–“a full moon nearest to the autumnal equinox,” and one that is, “bright enough to allow finishing (of) all the harvest chores.”

As the moon is set to rise at around 6:29 p.m., those in Central Maui will see the sunset right around the same time at 6:34 p.m.

When the moon does rise in the islands tonight, “it should look a little bigger and brighter than a normal full moon,” according to estimates from the Bishop Museum J. Watumull Planetarium.

NASA takes it one step further in its explanation of how Harvest Moons tend to rise at around sunset, creating a “great pumpkin” appearance that looks big because it is hanging low, and can appear reddened by clouds and dust of sunset.

So, how super is tonight’s Full Harvest Moon?  The answer is a bit cloudy.

While some publications have touted today’s moon as a “Supermoon,” it appears to depend on how you interpret and define the term.

According to NASA, the perigee-syzygy or Supermoon, occurs when the moon is at its closest point to Earth.  That would have been on August 10, 2014.

But for those that go with the definition of a Supermoon as one that falls “within 24 hours of perigee,” there would actually be three Supermoons in 2014, according to David Dickinson with Universetoday.com, and the Bishop Museum J. Watumull Planetarium Skywatch publication, which explain the science behind the full moon phenomenon.

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