October has two full Moons this year: the full Harvest Moon on October 1 and the full Hunter’s Moon on the 31st—Halloween! Learn more about these two special full Moons.
When to See October’s Full Moons
The first of October’s full Moons appeared on Thursday, October 1, reaching peak illumination at 5:06 P.M. Eastern Time. October’s second full Moon rises on Halloween—Saturday, October 31—and hits peak illumination at 10:51 A.M. Eastern Time.
As the Moon rises 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 really is.
Want to know the exact time of moonrise in your location? Check out our Moonrise and Moonset Calculator.
A Spooky Halloween Blue Moon
As stated above, October’s second full Moon appears on Saturday, October 31, making Halloween night extra special this year. This full Moon is known as the Hunter’s Moon, as this is the time of year when humans and animals alike are stocking up on food in preparation for the long winter ahead.
→ Just how rare is a full Moon on Halloween? Find out here!
Because the Hunter’s Moon is the second full Moon in the month of October, it is also considered a “Blue Moon.” This term refers either to the second full Moon to occur within a single calendar month or to the third full Moon in a calendar season. Despite the name, the Moon won’t actually appear blue-tinged; it will be its normal golden hue near the horizon, transitioning to a bright white overhead.
But wait! Here’s another fun fact that you should know about this full Moon: The Hunter’s Moon will be the smallest full Moon of the year—a so-called “minimoon“—thanks to it being farther away from Earth than any other full Moon in 2020. As you might guess, a minimoon is the opposite of a supermoon. This phenomenon is caused by the Moon’s oval-shaped orbit around Earth, which results in the Moon being farther and closer to the Earth at different points in its orbit. (The closest and farthest points in the Moon’s orbit are called perigee and apogee, respectively.)
It’s also worth noting that, as with a Blue Moon, a minimoon won’t actually appear any different than a normal full Moon does! Still, it’s a nice fun fact to know about this rare Halloween Moon.
The Harvest, the Hunter, and the Equinox
For decades, the Almanac has referenced the monthly full Moons with names tied to early Native American and Colonial folklore. However, both the Harvest Moon and the Hunter’s Moon are unique in that they are not related to this folklore, nor necessarily tied to a single month. Instead, they relate to an astronomical event: the autumnal equinox!
The Harvest Moon is said to be the full Moon which occurs nearest to the date of the autumnal equinox (September 22, 2020). 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.
This year, both the Harvest Moon (October 1) and Hunter’s Moon (October 31) occur in October.
Moon Phases for October 2020
See all Moon phase dates and times (EDT) below. See the Moon Phase Calendar for your location.
|Full Harvest Moon: October 1, 5:06 P.M.|
|Last Quarter Moon: October 9, 8:40 PM|
|New Moon: October 16, 3:31 P.M.|
|First Quarter Moon: October 23, 9:23 A.M.|
|Full Hunter’s Moon: October 31, 10:51 A.M.|
For your next full Moon, see our Full Moon Dates chart.
Why Is It Called the Hunter’s Moon?
Some folks believe that this full Moon was called the full Hunter’s Moon because it signaled the time to go hunting in preparation for winter. Since the harvesters had recently reaped the fields under the Harvest Moon, hunters could easily see the fattened deer and other animals that had come out to glean (and the foxes and wolves that had come out to prey on them).
About October Moon Names
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 with hunting or the turning of the leaves in autumn.
Some Native American tribes, who tied the full Moon names to the season’s activities, called the full Moon the “Travel Moon” and the “Dying Grass Moon.”
In lunisolar calendars, the months change with the new Moon and full Moons fall in the middle of the lunar month. This full Moon falls near the middle of the ninth month in the Chinese calendar and Marcheshvan in the Hebrew calendar. In the Islamic calendar, the months start with the first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon a few days after the New Moon. This full Moon is near the middle of Safar, the second month of the Islamic year.
October Full Moon Video
Each month, we will explain the traditional names of the full Moon along with some fascinating Moon facts. Click below to watch the video.
Best Days in October 2020
Below are some of the best days for certain activities, based on the Moon’s sign and phase in October.
Aboveground crops: 21, 22, 31
Belowground crops: 4, 5
For Setting Eggs
- Corn planted under a waning Moon grows slower but yields larger ears.
- Babies born a day after the full Moon enjoy success and endurance.
- A new Moon in your dreams promises increased wealth or a happy marriage.