harvest moon toronto

Spectacular harvest moon about to rise over Toronto

Did you happen to catch the moonrise in Toronto last night? Cresting the horizon more than a half an hour before sunset, it hovered in the eastern skies like giant before slowly ascending above the skyline and onward above the city.

It's only going to get better. The moon won't become entirely full until mid-afternoon on October 5, which means the moonrise on that day will be one of the most noteworthy lunar spectacles we've seen all year. It is, after all, the legendary harvest moon.

Technically speaking, the harvest moon is the full moon closest to the autumn equinox, which took place on September 22 in the northern hemisphere. That makes the moon of October 5 this year's official bearer of the title.

Much of the significance we attach to the harvest moon is steeped in centuries of folklore, but there's also a scientific reason why the full moons that occur around the autumn equinox are special.

According to EarthSky, "around the time of the autumn equinox, the ecliptic — or the path of the sun, moon, and planets — makes a narrow angle with the horizon at sunset."

In the most basic terms, this results in successive moonrises taking place near to sunset following the full moon. If moonrise typically takes place 50 minutes later each day following the full moon, in September and October, that number comes down to around 35 minutes.

The harvest moon isn't really a one day phenomenon, but rather a series of moonrises aligned with the sunset. Prior to agricultural mechanization, the lack of an interval between sunrise and moonrise aided in the harvest, allowing farmers to work late into the evening.

For the next few days, we'll witness awesome moonrises at sunset and be treated to full nights of the moon overhead. While this year's version of the harvest moon doesn't qualify for a "super" tag, it'll stick look positively huge if you catch it low on the horizon.

Tonight's moonrise (almost full) takes place at 6:41 p.m. and tomorrow's (full) at 7:13 p.m. Do keep an eye out on Friday as well. It'll rise at 8:21 p.m., when there's still a bit of residual sunlight on the horizon.

Happy harvest, everyone.

Lead photo by

Sanjin Avdicevic


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