Corn Moon: Best Time to See the Harvest Moon in September

This week, autumn kicks off unofficially with the appearance of the "Corn Moon" on Wednesday, Sept. 2. Also called the "Harvest Moon" by some, this is the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox every year. For those that want to mark the passing of the season, you will either need to be up late on Tuesday night or very early on Wednesday morning.

According to a report by CNN, this year's Corn Moon will be visible starting at 1:22 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Sept. 2. For most, that means staying up past midnight on Tuesday to get a good look at it. While it symbolically marks the beginning of fall to many people, this will technically be the last full moon of the summer. The "Corn Moon" comes only once every three years, so it may be worth getting a glimpse.

The Corn Moon is so-named because it indicated the best time of year to begin harvesting corn crops in the northeastern U.S., according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. It got its name from the Algonquin tribe of Native Americans. They watched for it to signal the time to begin harvesting pumpkins, squash, beans and wild rice as well.

According to a report by CBS News, the Corn Moon is referred to as the Fruit Moon and the Barley Moon in Europe, while in China, it is called the Hungry Ghost Moon. In Bangladesh, it is called the Honey Full Moon, and in Sri Lanka, it is called the Binara Pura Pasalosvaka Poya Day.

This rare celestial occurrence is even more significant in India, where Hindu worshippers plan their 10-day celebration known as Onam around it. When the Corn Moon rises, Onam is over and Pitri Paksha begins. This period is a time to honor ancestors through food offerings.

The reason this particular moon cycle is so rare is that it displaces the usual full moon of September — the Harvest Moon. When the calendar squeezes an extra full moon into the summer, it is called the Corn Moon. This year's Harvest Moon will not rise until Oct. 1.


For those staying up to get a look at it, NASA warns that visibility will vary depending on location. However, the moon will appear full to the naked eye for the next two nights as well, so patient sky-watchers will probably get a peek at some point. NASA notes that Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury may also be visible in the night sky this week.

"As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon," the agency advised. "And you might want to gather your fruits, vegetables, and other staples; avoid war; remember your ancestors; ask for forgiveness; and let go of grudges. Here's wishing you have a good year!"