Fall is in full swing — and so is our cloud cover in the D.C. area for the next few days.
You owe it to yourself to go outside on the nights of Sept. 28-29 — starting at sunset, looking toward the eastern horizon for the rising almost-full moon, and before dawn, looking toward the western horizon to hopefully catch a glimpse of the setting Super Harvest Full Moon. This will be the fourth supermoon in a row, and the moon will be a bit brighter as a result.
The actual moment of the Super Harvest Full Moon will occur on Friday at 5:57 a.m. EDT, so we really could see the Harvest Moon at almost the exact time it take place, as the moon sets at 7:12 a.m. EDT.
It would also be worth looking for the moon rising Friday night along the eastern horizon at about 7:19 p.m. EDT, since the moon will still be very bright and considered to be the Harvest Moon because it is the date the full moon occurs.
On both Thursday and Friday nights, we might get lucky with the clouds and see the moon in a glorious orange to yellow color as it rises and sets. You may also experience the added bonus of the “moon illusion,” which makes the moon appear larger to us when near the horizon.
In the city or countryside, the moon will light up the night sky and drown out all but the brightest stars. The light of the Super Harvest Full Moon will transform the countryside, where bright lights are not present, into a wonderland of light and shadows. I so enjoy the light of the full moon, as everything — sea, sky and land — takes on an unworldly perspective.
New research just published indicates that, “even in urbanized locations where the light of the full moon is drowned by city lights, the phases of the moon still influence people’s sleep patterns.” Hmm, might be an X-File, Scully.
As a sky-watching bonus on both nights, the planet Saturn will be to the upper right of the moon while bright Jupiter will be to the lower left.
Oh, and since gravity is in the driver’s seat for the moon’s movements across our sky, the new moon on Oct. 14 will produce a partial solar eclipse here in the D.C. area and an annular solar eclipse at specific locations. You have to follow solar safety guidelines and use proper eye protection during the entire solar eclipse event.
Let’s hope the cloud gods cut us a break so we can enjoy the view!