This month’s full moon — the Hunter’s Moon — will appear in the sky tonight.
Coming a lunar month after the Harvest Moon, the Hunter’s Moon name was used by many Native Americans to note the full moon arrival at a time when the harvest was in and it was time to hunt game to prepare for the winter.
As The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains, traditionally, each full Moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred and through all of the Moon’s phases — not only the full Moon. The Harvest Moon and the Hunter’s Moon are unique in that they are not directly related to this folklore, nor necessarily restricted to a single month. Instead, they are tied to the autumnal equinox.
The Harvest Moon is the full Moon which occurs nearest to the date of the autumnal equinox (Sept. 22, 2021). This means that either September or October’s full Moon may take on the name Harvest Moon instead of its traditional name. Similarly, the Hunter’s Moon is the first full Moon to follow the Harvest Moon, meaning that it can occur in either October or November.
The Almanac explains that the earliest use of the term “Hunter’s Moon,” cited in the Oxford English Dictionary, is from 1710.
“Some sources suggest that other names for the Hunter’s Moon are the Sanguine or Blood Moon, either associated with the blood from hunting or the color of the changing autumn leaves,” the Almanac reads.
Meanwhile, the full moon will suppress our view of all but the brightest meteors in the Orionid Meteor Shower, which will peak early Thursday morning.
The shower is expected to blast about 20 extremely fast (up to 148,000 mph) meteors across the sky per hour at peak.
The Orionids travel at such speed because the Earth is hitting the stream of Halley’s Comet debris nearly head-on as it passes through it.
The particles that burn as Orionids come from Comet 1P/Halley, better known as Halley’s Comet, which passes by Earth every 75 or so years, dropping bit as it makes its way around the Sun.
Some of the comet particles in the Orionid shower are as small as a grain of sand, but they can leave the fiery trail of a shooting star before burning up.
The Orionids appear to radiate from the constellation Orion (The Hunter) but knowing that is not necessary to spot them because they stretch across the entire night sky.