Harvest Moon Makes Dramatic Show in Oregon, the Coast
(Oregon Coast) – The Harvest Moon will be showing up in the next 24 hours, providing a stellar, lunar show for Oregon and the Oregon coast. You might've already noticed the spectacular showing of our planet's nearest neighbor as it's been breaking through the clouds in a rather dramatic fashion. (Above: last year's Harvest Moon at Cape Lookout, near Oceanside).
According to Jim Todd at Portland's OMSI, September's full moon is called the Harvest Moon, a reference to its close proximity to the first day of fall. It differs from year to year, but the Harvest Moon usually happens just before or just after the last day of summer and the first day of autumn – around September 22.
This year, the Harvest Moon reaches full phase on September 19 at 4:13 am PDT - Thursday night.
“Before the advent of artificial lighting, our ancestors were acutely aware of the daylight hours waning more rapidly around the autumnal equinox - the time when the Sun rises due east and sets due west - than at any other time of year,” Todd said. “But back then, people also understood lunar behavior, harvesting by the light of the Moon.” (Above: last year's Harvest Moon at Depoe Bay).
Tonight, you'll find the Harvest Moon popping up large and rather orange, low above the eastern horizon just after 6:40 pm, with sunset happening shortly after 7:15 pm to the west.
Todd said that orange color is an actual physical effect.
“When looking toward the horizon, we are actually looking through a greater thickness of Earth’s atmosphere than when looking directly overhead,” Todd said. “The atmosphere scatters blue light (the reason the sky looks blue). The thickness of the atmosphere in the direction of a horizon scatters blue light most effectively, but it lets red light pass through. So a moon near the horizon takes on a yellow, orange or reddish hue.”
The fact that it appears bigger than usual on or near the horizon is a trick the eyes play on you, Todd said. It's called a "the moon illusion," essentially a matter of perception by the human brain. It perceives the Moon when seen overhead as closer than the Moon seen at the horizon. (Above: the Harvest Moon at Newport, on the central Oregon coast).
“When an object is perceived to be nearer, the brain may compensate by making it look smaller to us,” Todd said. “Likewise, an object thought to be farther away will be seen as larger.”
Todd said every full Moon throughout the year has a different name. Next month, in October, the full Moon is called the Hunter's Moon.
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