Full Moon in October 2021

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Watch for the Hunter's Moon!

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October’s full Moon appears on Wednesday, October 20, 2021. 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 2021

The Hunter’s Moon will reach peak illumination at 10:57 A.M. Eastern Time on Wednesday, October 20. It will be below the horizon at this time, so we’ll have to wait until sunset to watch it take its place in the sky. Like September’s Harvest Moon, the Hunter’s Moon rises around the same time for several nights in a row, so start looking for it on Tuesday, October 19!

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 really is.

→ Want to know the exact time of moonrise in your location? Check out our Moonrise and Moonset Calculator!

A buck carrying the full moon in his antlers.
An elk holds the Moon in his antlers. Credit: Gallinago/Shutterstock.

The Harvest, the Hunter, and the Equinox

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, nor necessarily restricted to a single month. Instead, they are tied to an astronomical event: the autumnal equinox!

The Harvest Moon is the full Moon which occurs nearest to the date of the autumnal equinox (September 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.

This year, the Harvest Moon occurred on September 20, so the Hunter’s Moon will follow it one lunar cylce later, on October 20.

Why Is It Called the Hunter’s Moon?

It is believed that this full Moon came to be called the full Hunter’s Moon because it signaled the time to go hunting in preparation for the cold winter ahead. Animals are beginning to fatten up ahead of winter, and since the farmers had recently cleaned out their fields under the Harvest Moon, hunters could easily see the deer and other animals that had come out to root through the remaining scraps (as well as the foxes and wolves that had come out to prey on them).

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 that highlights 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 the time when birds begin to fly south to warmer climates.

Read more about Full Moon names and meanings.

Moon Phases for October 2021

See all Moon phase dates and times (in Eastern Daylight Time) below. See the Moon Phase Calendar for your location and time zone.

Moon Phases for October 2021

New Moon: October 6, 7:05 A.M. EDT
First Quarter: October 12, 11:27 P.M. EDT
Full Moon: October 20, 10:57 A.M. EDT
Last Quarter: October 28, 4:06 P.M. EDT

When is the next full Moon? Consult our Full Moon Calendar to find out!

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 2021

Below are some of the best days for certain activities, based on the Moon’s sign and phase in October.

For Harvesting

Aboveground crops: 12, 13

Belowground crops: 3, 4, 31

For Setting Eggs

14, 15, 22, 23

For Fishing

6–20

See Best Days for more activities.

Moon Folklore

  • 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.

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