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October’s full Moon peaks on Saturday, October 28, 2023. Learn how the Hunter’s Moon got its name—plus, see Moon phase dates, Best Days by the Moon, folklore, and more!
When to See the Full Moon in October 2023
The Hunter’s Moon will reach peak illumination at 4:24 P.M. Eastern Time on Saturday, October 28. It will be below the horizon, so we’ll have to wait until sunset to watch it rise and take its place in the sky. Like September’s Harvest Moon, the Hunter’s Moon rises around the same time for several nights, so start looking for it on Friday, October 27!
As the Moon drifts over the horizon around sunset, it may appear larger and more orange—how perfect for the fall season! But don’t be fooled by the “Moon Illusion,” which makes the Moon appear bigger than it is.
For decades, the Almanac has referenced the monthly full Moons with names tied to early Native American, Colonial American, and European folklore. 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 or restricted to a single month. Instead, they are tied to an astronomical event: the autumnal equinox!
The Harvest Moon is the full Moon that occurs nearest to the autumnal equinox date (September 23, 2023). 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 it can occur in either October or November.
This year, the Harvest Moon occurred on September 29, so the Hunter’s Moon will follow it one lunar cycle later, on October 28.
Why Is It Called the Hunter’s Moon?
This particular full Moon is commonly referred to as the full Hunter’s Moon. It is believed that this name originates from the fact that it was a signal for hunters to prepare for the upcoming cold winter by going hunting. This is because animals were beginning to fatten up in preparation for the winter season. Moreover, since fields had recently been cleared out under the Harvest Moon, hunters could easily spot deer and other animals that had come out to search for remaining scraps. Additionally, foxes and wolves would also come out to prey on these animals.
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.
Alternative October Moon Names
The names of the Moon are most often related to natural signs of the season or to activities that were done at this time of year. Some of our favorites include:
Drying Rice Moon, a Dakota name, describes part of the post-harvest process of preparing rice for winter.
Falling Leaves Moon is an Anishinaabe term highlighting the transition between summer and fall.
Freezing Moon (Ojibwe) and Ice Moon (Haida) refer to the increasingly cold temperatures of this period.
Migrating Moon (Cree) refers to when birds begin to fly south to warmer climates.