harvest supermoon 2016

Harvest supermoon to rise over Toronto tonight

It's a special night on Toronto skywatcher's calendars, as the Harvest Moon reaches its peak as it rises in the east at 7:22 p.m. Adding to the intrigue of what is already one of the most celebrated moons of the year (thank you Neil Young), tonight's version will also be an extra bright supermoon.

Well, that is, depending on who you ask. There's some debate in the astronomy community about whether or not this particular moon qualifies for the designation, but regardless of whose method you use to define the term, it's a close call. And that should be enough to make a point of looking up tonight.

Perhaps more importantly, the weather forecast looks favourable for viewing the moon, with no cloud cover forecasted for tonight. Look to the east at sunset for the best chance to see the moon when it appears largest.

Each full moon is named in a calendar year, but the Harvest Moon tends tends to attract the most attention, likely because its etymology is the easiest to understand. Being the full moon closest to the autumn equinox, the idea is that the extra light provided by the moon allows farming duties to extend into the night during the period of the harvest.

Those who live in Europe will have an even more spectacular show with a penumbral eclipse on display tonight, but there's no need to get too envious if the moon looks as stunning as it's promised to be. Yesterday's moonrise, for instance, was glorious even as it wasn't quite full.

If for whatever reason you miss tonight's moon, the good news is that the next three full moons (October, November, December) are slated to be supermoons. Happy skywatching.

Photo by Eliyas J in the blogTO Flickr pool.


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