The autumnal equinox and an exciting story about the harvest moon

With the brightness of the harvest moon this year, the hand of autumn knocked on the door, bringing with it the cool breeze, and the leaves of fallen trees, to announce the end of summer and the beginning of the autumnal equinox.


Such atmosphere was accompanied by the corn harvest among the Native Americans, so they called the full moon of September the harvest moon, and they gave the moon each month different names, the story of which will be known in these lines. This year, the full moon began on September 20 and remained in a state of fullness to the naked eye for three days, and this year the full moon coincided with the autumnal equinox, which began on September 22.


The phenomenon is explained by Ashraf Tadros, former head of the Astronomy Department at the Institute of Astronomical and Geophysical Research in Egypt, who says that the autumnal equinox occurs when the sun is perpendicular to the equator.


From here, the autumn season begins in the northern hemisphere, and the spring season begins in the southern hemisphere, and on this day the number of daylight hours is almost equal to the number of night hours.


The autumnal equinox this year comes with the completion of the harvest moon, noting that this coincidence does not happen every year.


Moon naming secrets


As for the secrets of naming the moon’s role by certain names, Tadros says that this matter is not related to astronomy, as it goes back to the culture of the Native Americans; As they associate the full moon with their daily activities, in September comes the corn harvest, so the name of the full moon becomes the harvest moon, and so it is repeated with the strawberry harvest in the month of June, and it becomes the strawberry moon.


The Native Americans did not record time using the months of the Julian or Gregorian calendar, but many tribes relied on telling time by observing the seasons and lunar months.

In many cases, the year for the Native Americans included 4 seasons, and sometimes it included 5 seasons, and some tribes identified the year as 12 moons, and others considered it 13 moons, while other tribes added an additional moon to keep the lunar cycle in sync with the seasons of the year.


For all this, the moon was the center of the life of the Native Americans, and the names of the moon varied between tribes, each tribe had its preferences of names, and with the arrival of European colonists to America, they used the names of the moon and applied them to the months of the Gregorian calendar.


Moon names


A list of the names of the moon for the colonizing Europeans and Native American tribes according to the Gregorian calendar :

  • January: "Wolf's Moon", where the full moon appeared when wolves howled in starvation outside villages, is also known as the old moon.

  • February: "Snow Moon", usually the heaviest snowfalls in February, hunting becomes very difficult, thus for some Native American tribes this was the "hunger moon ".

  • March: The "worm moon", which coincides with the advent of spring and the reappearance of the earthworm.

  • April: "Pink Moon" This full moon heralds the appearance of pink moss, or wild ground phlox - one of the first spring flowers, also known as the grass moon, egg moon, and fish moon.

  • May: The moon of this month was known by several names, including the corn planting moon or the milk moon, and flowers grow in abundance this month, so it was also called the “flower moon. ”

  • June: "Strawberry Moon" The Algonquin people associate this moon with the gathering of ripe strawberries, also known as the pink moon and the hot moon.

  • Hare July: "Thunder Moon". It was known by this name because thunderstorms are very frequent during this month.

  • August full "sturgeon moon"; Some Native American tribes easily caught sturgeon in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain during a full moon, and others called it the Green Corn Moon.

  • September: The "corn moon" or "harvest moon", this full moon corresponds to the time of the corn harvest. It is also called the barley moon, because it is the time when ripe barley is harvested and threshed, and it is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, which can occur in September or October, and be bright enough to allow all harvesting to be completed.

  • October: "Hunting Moon", the month of hunting and stocking in the pantry for the coming long winter, October moon is also known as the "travel moon" and "dying moon ".

  • November: "Beaver Moon" was named after the beavers, a genus of aquatic rodents with fur. This was the right time for the colonists and Algonquin tribes to hunt them before the swamps freeze, to ensure the provision of fur in the winter. This full moon was also called the "Frost Moon ".

  • December: “The Moon of Long Nights.” In this month, the cold of winter takes hold, and the nights become long and dark, hence the name.

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