Astronomy

The harvest moon greets autumn



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"The harvest moon greets autumn"
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As the sun slowly descends from the sky into the western horizon, retiring from its final day of summer sunshine, it lingers a bit to greet the harvest moon that makes its flamboyant appearance in the east, announcing the first day of autumn. This cosmic greeting of light from both the sun and the moon, in perfect harmony, creates a kind of 360 degree twilight splendor, a phenomenal occurrence.

One of the characteristics of the harvest moon is its size, as it appears to be bigger, brighter and more radiant. The burnt orange color and vibrant brilliance illuminates the sky in a show of mesmerizing wonder. Because it sits lower in the sky, this creates an illusion of a bigger moon.

The color of the harvest moon is a prelude of the colors of autumn. The orange richness that appears makes one think of pumpkins and sweet potatoes. Mellow and golden tones of yellow, like that of candlelight, and rustic brown, like that of cinnamon and spice.

The many characteristics of the harvest moon were once cherished by farmers before they had the ability and means to light up the land. Since the light from the harvest moon takes over before the sun sets, there is no period of darkness in between. It was a blessing sent to allow the lords of the land to reap the fruits of their labors, to gather the last bounty well into the night, in preparation for the long winter to come.

The harvest moon seems to hang from the sky, demanding attention as it announces the changing of the season precisely at the time of the autumn equinox, the end of summer and the beginning of fall when the days and nights share equal time. Like a perfectly round cut-out of a glittery ball of fire, its majestic appearance will leave you awestruck.

The characteristic of the harvest moon, the brightness and vibrancy of its presence as it dominates the sky, is breathtaking. As the night progresses, it gets brighter and continues to shine, almost fluorescent, like a neon ball. It is bright enough to wake the light sleepers and draw their attention to its sparkle, or to ease the fears of children who loathe the darkness, for it shines like a night light, making all feel save and grateful of its being.

In the days of old, many night workers relied on the light of the harvest moon to allow them a chance at a little overtime. Hunters and farmers were afforded this extra time to provide for their families in preparation of the holiday season and to store food until the next planting season.

Nowadays, astronomers, sky watchers and star gazers wait in anticipation for this special time when the earth aligns the two bright lights of day and night in perfect harmony. The closing of summer, the beginning of autumn and a rare happening in the universe make the characteristics of the harvest moon a spectacular event.

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More about this author: Kat Ballew

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