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Calm Down About The 'Harvest Moon' Tonight, Guys! It's Going To Be Micro

Unlike the big orange "Harvest Moon" you may be imagining, this moon shot might be closer to what tonight's will look like. (rulenumberone2/flickr)
Unlike the big orange "Harvest Moon" you may be imagining, this moon shot might be closer to what tonight's will look like. (rulenumberone2/flickr)

Apologies in advance for being the bearer of bad celestial news.

You might have heard that the moon is going to look really cool tonight — big and orange and full — and on Friday the 13th, no less! And based on the photos floating online and around social media, you'd be excused for thinking so.

But the truth is that tonight's full moon is just going to look normal, if not a little smaller than usual. Here's why:

We're almost at the autumnal equinox, and the full moon closest to that date is called the "Harvest Moon."

(If you want to get scientific, the moon is full at 12:33 a.m. on the 14th, but if you're excited about the prospect of a full moon on Friday the 13th, by all means ...)

But because the moon is also at its apogee — the farthest point from the Earth in its monthly orbit — it's going to appear 7-14% smaller than usual. We call this a "micro" moon in meteorology.

The good news is that if you happen to have a clear view of the horizon around 7 p.m. tonight, you will be able to see the full moon rising in the evening sky — a celestial spectacle that's always worth witnessing. The moon will set around 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning, but I (Dave) think there will be too many clouds to see it happen.

The other good news is that for the next few nights, the moon will appear full even though it'll technically be past full. Notice we slowly lose the fullness day by day, but it remains 90% full or more until Tuesday evening. Enjoy!

Related:

David Epstein Twitter Meteorologist
David Epstein is WBUR's meteorologist.

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Miriam Wasser Twitter Reporter, EarthWhile
Miriam Wasser is a reporter for WBUR's environmental vertical.

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