Hunters Moon 2018 – October’s Full Moon
This months Full Moon also known as the Hunters Moon in folklore, occurs on October 24th 2018 at 17:45 BST. It is one of the years most striking Full Moons, due to the time of year with autumn well underway.
Hunters Moon in Folklore
The name “Hunters Moon” is the name given to it in folklore. It is also the first Full Moon after the Harvest Moon.
Ancient American peoples gave names to each Full Moon. These names usually reflected the circumstances of the land and season at the time.
With the Hunters Moon, ancient peoples had already brought in the harvest. The almost bare trees of autumn made it possible to stalk prey by moonlight. Many of the hunters prey were well fattened after the summer, such as deer and other animals and easily spotted in the moonlight. It was at this time the hunters would go out and start storing meat for the winter. This is why the Moon at his time of year is known as the Hunters Moon.
Why does the Full Moon in October look so good?
The Full Moon in October is one of the most striking of the year. There are a couple of reasons: The first and the most romantic being the first Full Moon of crisp cold nights, with a hint of winter about it but still retaining some of the warmth of late summer early autumn. I call this Moon the chimney or smoke Moon, as you can usually smell the smoke of household coal and log fires being lit early to keep the bite of cold away. In a way the Moon in October is the most sensory. It’s bright, it’s bold and you can smell it!
More scientifically, The Hunters Moons appearance is enhanced due to the time it rises in relation to sunset. Normally, the Moon rises roughly 50 minutes later each day. The Moon around equinoxes rises roughly 30 minutes every day. This is because the ecliptic (the path of the Sun, Moon and Planets) is at a more shallow angle compared to other times of the year. This causes the Hunters Full Moon to rise earlier and be visible early twilight big and bold on the horizon.
The Moon Looks Massive!
When the Full Moon and especially October’s Hunters moon rises above the horizon, it can look massive!
This is down to a phenomenon known as the “Moon Illusion”.
The Moon isn’t any different in size to when its higher in the sky, but it can appear much larger when lower on the horizon.
This explanation of the Moon Illusion by Steve Owens originally posted on Dark Sky Diary explains why our brains are fooling us:
1. When the Moon is low on the horizon there are lots of objects (hills, houses, trees etc) against which you can compare its size. When it’s high in the sky it’s there in isolation. This might create something akin to the Ebbinghaus Illusion, where identically sized objects appear to be different sizes when placed in different surroundings.
2. When seen against nearer foreground objects which we know to be far away from us, our brain thinks something like this: “wow, that Moon is even further than those trees, and they’re really far away. And despite how far away it is, it still looks pretty big. That must mean the Moon is huge!”.
These two factors combine to fool our brains into “seeing” a larger Full Moon when it’s near the horizon compared with when it’s overhead, even when our eyes – and our instruments – see it as exactly the same size.
I understand the ‘moon illusion’, but it doesn’t explain why, when it rises over the sea (as it does often where I live on the south coast of England), with no objects at all on the horizon around it, it appears absolutely massive!
It’s one of those unknown secrets of the brain. There are a number of theories as mentioned in the article, but there isn’t a rock solid answer. If you measure it, the Moon stays the same size but our brains do something to change this.