What is the Harvest Moon and where can you see it in the Channel Islands?

A Harvest Moon rising over Jersey's Fort Regent in 2018 Credit: Richard Bougeard

The fourth and final supermoon of 2023 is set to grace the skies above the Channel Islands this Friday (29 September).

The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, which happened on Saturday 23 September.

What is a Supermoon?

Supermoons happen because the distance between the moon and the Earth changes over time.

A supermoon occurs at perigee: the point in the moon's orbit where it is closest to Earth so it may appear bigger and brighter.

The opposite is a "micromoon", when the moon is at its furthest from us.

The last three full moons have been supermoons, which is something of a rarity.

The next supermoon won't take place for another year, until Wednesday 18 September 2024.

A Harvest Moon rising over Herm in 2021 Credit: Tony Rive

Where does the name 'Harvest Moon' come from?

Traditionally, light from the moon at the time of year allowed farmers to work into the night and bring in crops from the field - hence the name, Harvest Moon.

Will it have an impact on the tides?

Yes. As the moon is closer than usual it’ll also be pulling harder, via gravity, on Earth’s oceans.

Jersey is set to have some high spring tides near to 12 metres high so do take care if you are out near the coast. Overtopping of Victoria Marina in Guernsey is expected to lead to some flooding along the seafront around high tide this weekend.

Where can I see the Harvest Moon?

If the skies are clear, look to the east after sunset tonight, though the Harvest Moon will reach its peak tomorrow morning.

If you want to see it in a bit more detail, you can also use a telescope or binoculars. 

As the moon rises, it may look orange or even red - especially if it's low on the horizon.

This is because the moon's light is filtered as it travels through more of the Earth's atmosphere.

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