Clean moon, harvest soon.
The full 'Harvest" moon is on the rise beginning Saturday night, for those living in the Northern Hemipshere. For three days in a row, a glowing full moon will rise just after sunset and bathe the evening in an unusual amount of light.
The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox, marking the beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere. Before the days of electricity reliance, the Harvest Moon allowed farmers to work late into the night collecting their early-autumn crops before they rotted, according to Slate.
The Harvest Moon, with its striking orange tinge, looks larger than a regular full moon but it is not. In fact, the 2012 Harvest Moon is a bit smaller than the average-sized full moon, according to EarthSky.org. Whenever a full moon is low on the horizon it appears larger, but that is just an optical illusion caused by distance.
The moon usually rises 50 minutes later each successive night. During the Harvest Moon, the full moon appears to emerge at the same time over three evenings. In New York City, there is a 30-minute gap. Moonrise occurs at 6:11 p.m on Sept. 29, 6:41 p.m. on Sept. 30 and 7:12 p.m. on Oct. 1, reported Space.com's Joe Rao.
In the Arctic Circle, the moon rises at about the same time each night around the Harvest Moon. Those living father north will see a paradox. The moon will rise earlier on each successive night, according to Rao. Why is this so?
The reason for this circumstance is that the moon appears to move along the ecliptic -- the apparent path of the sun across the sky -- and at this time of year when rising, the ecliptic makes its smallest angle with respect to the horizon for those living in the Northern Hemisphere.
This year, the Harvest Moon will float above the planet Uranus, according to Space.com. The sky show can be seen live on the Slooh Space Camera, with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT). Those hoping to catch a glimpse live should look for Uranus just below the moon. It will be the only green "star" in the sky, a hue created due to the methane in its atmosphere.
“The Harvest Moon is widely misunderstood," Slooh panelist Bob Berman said in a statement to Space.com. "Its behavior is unique, and yet its appearance is no different from any other full moon. That will be one major focus of Saturday night's live coverage."
He added, "As for Uranus, with its singular green color and wild axial tilt, its permanent overcast never allows us to see markings of any kind, and yet its story is nothing short of fascinating."