What to know about the hunter’s moon and how to watch this weekend

As people prep to dress as their favorite characters and fill sugar cravings, sky watchers will get a pre-Halloween treat: This year’s hunter’s moon will glow in the night sky Saturday. Not only will viewers get to see a full moon, but some lucky viewers also will see a partial lunar eclipse.

The moon won’t be the only celestial orb on the big stage. Jupiter — the biggest planet in our solar system — will try to outshine the moon, though the moon will still be the brightest spot in the sky. The gas giant will hang just south of the moon.

“What’s great about the moon at this time of year, as it gets darker earlier and stays darker later, the moon rises right around sunset when it’s full so you get these beautiful low-hanging moons in the sky,” said Noah Petro, a scientist with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter project at NASA.

Here’s everything you need to know going into the weekend.

Why is it called the hunter’s moon?

Different cultures give names to the moon, often based on common seasonal activities. The hunter’s moon, also known as falling leaves moon and freezing moon, historically signals a time of year when Indigenous groups stock up on food for winter — especially since deer and other prey have fattened up after feasting all summer. The hunter’s moon is generally in October — although once every four years the hunter moon makes an appearance in November.

The hunter’s moon, and the harvest moon that precedes it, are characterized by moonrises of 30 minutes — compared with the typical 50 minutes. Essentially, these are early evening moonrises. The longer hours of light make the full moons in September and October ideal times for harvesting and hunting. The moon will rise at the same time for several nights before and after the hunter’s moon.

Who will get to see the partial lunar eclipse?

Sky watchers in Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia get a special treat this weekend because will they get to see a partial lunar eclipse — the last lunar eclipse of the year.

A partial lunar eclipse occurs when an imperfect alignment of the sun, Earth and the moon causes a portion of the Earth’s shadow to obscure parts of the moon — without fully covering it.

But it won’t be very obvious, according to Petro. This will be a very subtle partial eclipse.

“This will not be something that people will immediately recognize,” Petro said. “The moon will be passing through a portion of the Earth’s shadow, so it will dim.”

Lunar eclipses almost always occur on the heels of solar eclipses, Petro said. About two weeks after, to be exact. The “ring of fire” eclipse graced our skies just two weeks ago.

Unlike solar eclipses, which require protective eyewear, a lunar eclipse doesn’t require specific equipment because you won’t be looking at the sun.

The Earth will partially act as a buffer between the moon and the sun starting at 19:35 UTC, which will be 3:35 p.m. Eastern time on Oct. 28 (universal time is four hours ahead of Eastern time). The Earth will retire its position at 20:52 UTC.

Where and when can you see this moon?

Since the hunter’s moon is a full moon, the moon will illuminate at 100 percent. Remember the moon rises in the east and sets in the west. Here are the best times to see it in a few time zones:

Moonrise: 6:06 p.m. Eastern time

Moonrise: 5:44 p.m. Central time

Moonrise: 6:04 p.m. Pacific time

Check out other moonrise and moonset times here.


Disclaimer : The content in this article is for educational and informational purposes only.

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