Go Enjoy the Harvest Moon Tonight and Tomorrow

If you like astronomy, here's a very simple event that you can see without special instruments, even if you are in a city: The harvest moon. In fact, if you are in a city, it will look even more spectacular.

The Harvest Moon is the full moon after the fall equinox, which this year was the 22 of September. The Harvest Moon usually happens in September, but this year is a little late. You will be able to see it this weekend. But why is is so special about it?

Nothing happens to the Moon itself except that, during these days, it travels really close to the horizon. That triggers something called the Moon illusion. This optical phenomenon makes our home satellite look huge when it's close to the horizon and smaller when it's up in the sky, even while it's always at the same distance from Earth. That's why, during these days, the full moon will look huge for a longer time thanks to its path in the sky, and its position in relation with the Sun.

You probably have seen this Moon before. If you live in a city it will appear huge and possibly colored because of the air pollution, appearing yellow, orange, and even red and pink. In the past, there were often fires in agricultural and forest areas, so the moon would be wildly colored too. This appearance, together with the fascination and influence the Moon has over humans and animals, made the Harvest Moon the inspiration for all kinds of legends, poems, and songs.

Maybe not Nick Drake's Pink Moon, but it goes nicely with it. So while for some it may not be as cool and flashy as the Perseids, it's still one of my favorite events to watch.

Now, go grab a bottle of wine or champagne, get out with your lover, and enjoy together. Or drink the bottle, get out naked, and howl at it. Like I do. [Wikipedia]