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Unlucky Harvest Moon for Oregon Coast, Portland, Valley on Friday the 13th

Published 09/09/2019 at 2:53 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Unlucky Harvest Moon for Oregon Coast, Portland, Valley on Friday the 13th

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(Oregon Coast) – This week comes a full Harvest Moon and a Friday the 13th, and that may not be a total coincidence as the Oregon coast, Portland and other parts of the state may be out of luck to see the full glory of this moon. (Above: a Harvest Moon in Newport)

According to Jim Todd, director of space science education at Portland’s OMSI, this Friday, September 13 will be the Harvest Moon, the designation for the full moon that comes closest to the first day of fall – which is September 23. The Harvest Moon can, however, fall just before or after the autumnal equinox, which usually happens on or about September 22.

On September 13, you’ll see the sun setting in the west horizon at 7:25 p.m. accompanied soon by the Full Harvest Moon doing something rather spectacular. It appears about 7:44 p.m. as a large orange full moon low on the eastern horizon, the result of a pair of different effects. Its orange color comes from the fact we are looking at it through more layers of atmosphere because it’s so low.

“The atmosphere scatters blue light (the reason the sky looks blue),” Todd said. “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.”

Its larger-than-usual size comes from a trick your eyes play on you called the “moon illusion.”

“The illusion is a matter of perception, a trick of the brain, which perceives the Moon when seen overhead as closer than the Moon seen at the horizon,” Todd said. “When an object is perceived to be nearer, the brain may compensate by making it look smaller to us. Likewise, an object thought to be farther away will be seen as larger. “

Before the invention of light bulbs and other artificial lighting, Todd said our ancestors were quite aware of the waning daylight hours that come with autumn. They noted how the day shrank more rapidly around the autumnal equinox, a time when the Sun rises due east and sets due west. The name Harvest Moon came from the tradition of harvesting crops by the light of the moon about this time of year.

Unfortunately for the Oregon coast and places like Portland, Salem, Eugene, Silverton and the rest of the northwest part of the state, the forecast calls for mostly clouds the whole of the week. Wednesday does get a nice sun break on the Oregon coast – true to the whole “second summer” concept (September is normally the mot pleasant weather of the year on the beaches).

On Friday, the forecast for both the valley and coastal regions is mostly cloudy, but therein lies a silver lining. There should be occasional breaks in those clouds that night, allowing some viewing. Since the Harvest Moon will appear in the east, and the coast range mountains and other hills block the view to the east from the beaches, some of that bigger-than-usual effect may be lost, as well as the orange effect.

Newport may have the best view of the phenomena, since the mountains tend to be farther to the east. You’ll need to get high on a hill, however, and farther inland from the beaches. See Oregon Coast Weather.

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Below: Harvest Moon in Waldport, Depoe Bay and Yachats




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