On Thursday, October 5th at 2:40 p.m. EDT, the Moon officially turns full. And because this full Moon is the one that occurs nearest to the autumnal equinox (which was September 22) it is christened the Harvest Moon.
Usually the title of Harvest Moon goes to the September full Moon. But from 1970 to 2050 the Harvest Moon falls in October no fewer than 18 times. And 2017 is one of those years.
While the average occurrence of an October Harvest Moon is once about every three years, sometimes as much as eight years can pass between such cases (examples: 1990 to 1998; 2028 to 2036).
On alternate years, the October Moon is traditionally known as the full Hunter’s Moon.
Native American Traditions
At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night by the light of this Moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. The Native Americans’ key staple crops of corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice are now ready for gathering.