September’s Super Harvest Full Moon

Happy September Super Harvest Full Moon!

Welcome to Issue 9 of Volume VI of Earth, Moon and Stars!

   The moon will become full Tuesday (9th) at 01:38 UT; correspondingly earlier in time zones west of Greenwich (making it Monday), later in time zones to the east. (See my December 2014 issue for some clarification about UT-Universal Time.)

   Because technical fullness will occur within less than two hours of midnight at the Prime Meridian, Ms. Luna will appear fullest Monday night almost everywhere on Earth. See Seasonal Calendar below for times in some representative time zones.

In this issue:

  • Moon Names ~ Harvest Moon
  • Seasonal Calendar ~ Moon dates and times
  • Skywatch ~ Super full moon #3 of 3
  • Starwatch ~ Astronomy and Lore of the Zodiac ~ Virgo and Capricornus
  • Moon Art – “Harvest Moon” watercolor by Robin Samiljan 
  • Astrology ~ Full Moon in Pisces: Self Care | Our True Selves


September’s Harvest Moon

   As you know (especially if you’ve been following this blog), many cultures in both hemispheres kept track of the seasons by giving a distinctive name to each full moon, appropriate for the month in which it occurred and typically keyed to the goings-on in their natural environment . . . the weather, the plants, the animals.

Harvest Moon
.   Many cultures named one of the full moons around this time of year the “Harvest Moon” – because September is the culmination of the summer growing season. Interestingly, while the definition of Harvest Moon is now generally accepted as the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, other cultures had it earlier (August for the Chinese) or later (October for the Celts and Cherokee).

   In the days before light bulbs, farmers relied on moonlight to help them harvest their crops. Many crops ripen all at once in late summer and early autumn, so farmers found themselves extremely busy at this time of year. As they had to work after sundown, moonlight became an essential part of farming and, so, the Harvest Moon was born.

   There’s more to the Harvest Moon, however, than just an old-fashioned name. It really is special astronomically: Throughout the year the moon rises on average about 50 minutes later each day. But near the autumnal equinox this difference shrinks to only about 30 minutes. The reason is, at the beginning of autumn the Moon’s orbital path makes a narrower angle with the evening horizon. All this translates into more continuous light from the sky (moonlight directly following sunset) around this full moon. (See our September 2013 post for more details on this effect.)

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Moon Dates and Times

September’s full moon:  Tuesday September 9 01:38 UT; 4:38 am IDT; 9:38 am PHT
.                                           Monday September 8 9:38 pm ET, 6:38 pm PT; 3:38 pm HAST
September equinox:       Tuesday September 23 02:29 UT; 5:29 am IDT; 10:29 am PHT
.                                           Monday September 22 10:29 pm ET, 7:29 pm PT; 4:29 pm HAST
September’s new moon: Wednesday September 24 06:14 UT; 9:14 am IDT; 2:14 pm PHT
.                                            2:14 am ET»Tuesday September 23 11:14 pm PT; 8:14 pm HAST
October’s full moon:        Wednesday October 8 10:51 UT; 1:51 pm IDT; 6:51 pm PHT
.                                            6:51 am ET; 3:51 am PT; 12:51 am HAST

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Super Full Moon

   This full moon will be the third of three “super” full moons this year. “Super” here means the Moon in its elliptical orbit will be at or near perigee (closest approach to Earth) around the time that it’s full. Thus she will appear slightly larger in diameter – and thus slightly brighter – than usual. (See the Skywatch section of last month’s post for a graphic comparison of the difference in apparent sizes when the Moon is furthest from us in its elliptical orbit and when it is closest.) While you won’t be able to distinguish the difference with your un-aided eyes, a slightly larger supermoon is expected next year (2015) in September, with the closest/largest supermoon until 2034 to occur in November, 2016. (ref NASA, Weather)

   As was true last month, this combo of fullness (Moon opposite the Sun) and relative nearness to Earth means tides around these times will be somewhat more extreme (higher highs, lower lows) than usual. Lots more interesting info on superness at EarthSkyJul12EarthSkyAug9, and EarthSkyAug10.

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Astronomy and Lore of the Zodiac

   If you’ve been following this blog since last fall, you should be familiar by now with the basics of the zodiac. See our January post to brush up on the basics of the “astronomy behind the astrology”. Below is a diagram we’ve been using that you may find helpful in visualizing the zodiac.

   Briefly speaking, the astronomical zodiac consists of thirteen constellations that lie along the ecliptic. (“Thirteen?” you say? “I always heard there were twelve.” Well, this has to do with the difference between the astronomical and astrological zodiacs, which we touched on in the January post. We will explore it more in future posts.)

   You may recall from discussion on this blog in previous months that the ecliptic is the annual path that the sun seems to travel across the backdrop of the fixed stars.

Zodiac diagram

Astrological zodiac diagram

   Early astrologers idealized the ecliptic as a circle, divided it into twelve equal segments or “signs”, and gave each sign the name of the constellation it was near on the ecliptic (at the time). Today the signs and the constellations, while still having the same (or similar) names, do not correspond with each other in the sky. This is due to a number of unrelated phenomena. (See the January 2014 post for details.)

Constellation of the Month: Virgo

   Virgo “the Maiden” is the zodiac constellation we feature this month, because this is the time that the sun is considered to be in this Western (or tropical) astrological sign.

Virgo map

Virgo map

   Virgo follows Leo the Lion on the Zodiac. It is the largest of the 13 Zodiac constellations, and the second-largest of all the 88 IAU catalogued constellations.

    In contrast with astrological timing (see Astrological Sign of the Month below), the sun these days actually passes in front of the constellation Virgo each year from about September 16 to October 30. (ref EarthSky)

   Virgo can’t be seen in September and October because this is when it is on the other side of the Sun from us. As we pointed out in our May issue this year, May is the best time of year to view Virgo. (See our May post for viewing details.) (ref Wikipedia, EarthSky, Space; Field Guide to the Night Sky, National Audubon Society)

Astrological Sign of the Month: Virgo

   Virgo is the sixth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of the same name. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits the sign of Virgo on average from August 23 to September 22 or 23 each year; it occupies the span from 150 to 180 degrees in the idealized 360 degree circle.

Virgo (Wikipedia)

Virgo (Wikipedia)

   In Greek mythology, the constellation Virgo is often said to represent Persephone, whose mother was Demeter, goddess of the harvest. Quoting EarthSky: “… eternal spring once reigned upon the Earth, until that fateful day when the god of the underworld abducted Persephone, the radiant maiden of spring.” The story goes on to tell of Demeter’s grief and the intervention by Zeus. You can read the whole story at the EarthSky article on Virgo.

Virgo Symbol

Virgo Symbology

The symbol for Virgo (♍), according to at least one report, is a stylized “M” for Maiden, with what might be the crossed legs of a chaste virgin.


Constellation In View: Capricornus

  The zodiac constellation easiest to see right now is Capricornus the Sea-goat. (We highlighted this constellation when we featured the zodiac sign Capricorn in our January issue earlier this year.) It is the smallest and second faintest constellation in the zodiac.

Constellation Capricornus

Constellation Capricornus

   You can find details on how to locate this constellation in the current night sky at the EarthSky article on Capricornus.

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Full Harvest Moon (September) by Robin Samiljan

Full Harvest Moon (September) by Robin Samiljan

     This beautiful watercolor is by Chicago artist Robin Samiljan from her collection
A Year of Moons“. Prints are available for purchase at Fine Art America

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Molly Hall ~ Full Moon in Pisces – Dreams or Nightmares?

    Molly Hall is chief astrologer at This month Molly writes about the Full Moon in Pisces on her astrology site:  “Dreams or Nightmares?, in which she informs us that with Neptune also in Pisces, there is a “big planetary intoxicant at the Full Moon”. Here is a brief excerpt from this article:

     What’s come to mind to me lately is Neptune Pisces making it hard to know what’s real and what’s not. And there’s a danger, with energies so intensely charged, of fighting phantoms or losing vital energy to a fear current.

     This comes by way of astrologer Gray Crawford, and speaks to going gently, when madness swirls around. He writes on the Super Pisces Full Moon: “As there has been a lot of darkness and despair in current events, it would be wise to focus on self-care to purify and nourish our sense of self so that negativity around us does not lead us to turn it on ourselves.”

   If you are interested in exploring the effect related to your particular birth chart, Molly also has a separate article “Pisces Full Moon in the Houses“, in which she provides forecasts according to the astrological “house” of your birth. 

   Molly has a lot more helpful insight around this full moon. For the complete reads, click “Dreams or Nightmares? and “Pisces Full Moon in the Houses. Also visit Molly’s front page for more interesting astrology.

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Emily Trinkaus ~ Honoring Sensitivity, Reconnecting with Source

   Head priestess at virgo magic, Emily is based in Portland, OR, and works with astrology as a tool for healing, empowerment, personal growth and collective evolution. In addition, she and energy healer Katie Todd run the Full Moon Priestess website where they conduct monthly Full Moon Galactivation teleclasses for women.

Pisces Full Moon (collage by Emily)

Pisces Full Moon (collage by Emily)

   Emily’s column for this full moon is: Honoring Sensitivity, Reconnecting with Source. The full article is definitely worth a look. Here is a brief excerpt from this refreshingly personal approach to astrology:

   The Pisces Full Moon highlights and heightens our sensitivity to other people and our environment, and the existential suffering that arises from the paradox of being spiritual beings in physical form. The high-vibration expression of Pisces is unconditional love, ecstatic divine union, a felt connection with all life.

   As the last sign in the zodiac, Pisces is where everything dissolves back into the ocean of consciousness, where we lose the illusion of separation and remember the truth of our infinite Source selves. The challenge is how to stay connected with that ultimate spiritual truth, how to stay in that vulnerable, heart-wide-open place, while being in our bodies and on the planet.

   Emily has lots more good stuff to say on this. For the full read – which I highly recommend – click on the above title line to visit her page.

Pisces Full Moon (

Pisces Full Moon

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    Thank you, dear reader, for visiting EM&S this “moonth”. I hope you liked it.

   If you especially liked (or disliked) something you saw here, or would like to see something in particular covered in a future issue, or you have something interesting about the Earth, Moon, or Stars you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m always interested in how folks who stop by here are moved/influenced/affected by what they encounter here. And don’t be shy about sharing this post with friends if you like it!

   Note that I now have a separate page called ARCHIVES which contains a list of all the titles I’ve posted since the inception of this blog. The titles are clickable, of course. Easier and more informative than just the dates that appear in the right-side Archives column. (I’m slowly learning things I can make WordPress do. There’s a lot there!)

   Until the full moon in October, here’s wishing all of us a month of self care and remembering the truth of who we really are.
Moonlight to all!

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My Personal Take on Astrology

  Some folks have wondered why I have an astrology section in a blog that purports to be “science” oriented. I suppose I could cite ancient cultures in which astronomy and astrology were the domain of the same person. And that a broader way of understanding the aim of science is to expand knowledge (the word science being derived from the Latin word  scīre “to know”). My own sense is that while we humans live in a material world that runs by certain rules of physics, we each experience our lives in this world subjectively. It’s what makes us similar and at the same time unique.
   How much do celestial bodies influence our lives? Certainly the Sun and the Moon have noticeable gravitational effects on water and even rocks. Electromagnetic and particle radiation from the Sun has both obvious and subtle effects on just about everything on this planet. Even moonlight affects plants and animals.  I do not claim to know if or how much these and other celestial bodies affect us directly, but I like the wisdom, warmth and humanness that the astrologers I feature express in their writing, and believe that including them not only expands my potential audience, but also exposes folks to ways of thinking about their own lives that they might not have otherwise considered. Let me know your take on this. I won’t make your comment public if you ask me not to.

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    A few detail-oriented folks have inquired about my use (or mis-use) of Initial Caps in words like earth, moon, and sun. In the long run, it doesn’t affect understanding; whether I write ”the President” or “the president”, you still know who I’m referring to. I write “the Northern Hemisphere”, just as you would (correctly) write “the West Coast”; it’s a proper name, and in English we capitalize proper names.

    When it comes to suns and moons it can get confusing. There are billions of suns out there; we have given names to more than 40 million of them, ranging from names given in other languages (e.g., Aldebaran), to less fanciful but more utilitarian names, such as HD 140913. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has decreed that our sun is the only one without such a proper name, although historically and in poesy it’s been called by quite a few.

    Similarly for our moon. We’ve christened all of the other 182 moons in our solar system with names – ours is the only one we call the Moon.

    Since we capitalize the names of all the other heavenly bodies (even asteroids and comets, for pity’s sake), I feel we ought to show at least as much respect for the ones most important to us. The IAU agrees.

    So does Wikipedia. Their Manual of Style says: “The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (our Sun, Earth, Moon and Solar System): The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; The Moon orbits the Earth. They are not capitalized when used outside an astronomical context (The sky was clear and the sun felt warm), or when used in a general sense (Io is a moon of Jupiter).”

    Sometimes it’s a fine line. If I write “by the light of the silvery moon”, I won’t capitalize it, because I’m referring to an image of the celestial body, not the body itself. By contrast, if I write, “the light from the Sun reflects off the surface of the Moon,” I capitalize both, because I’m referring directly to the celestial bodies.

    If you inspect the archives of this blog, you will likely see many instances where I departed from this rule. We’ll call these oversights, and eventually I will correct them. Meanwhile, it’s an interesting challenge just to follow it in new writings. Are we having fun, yet?

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   The Earth, Moon and Stars blog is published once each Full Moon with (hopefully interesting) facts and lore about our moon and other sky phenomena. My wish is that you will have fun learning a bit more about our one and only natural satellite and how all of us — people, animals, plants, water, even rocks — are affected and connected by her.

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Unless otherwise noted, this blog claims no credit for any images or compositions (e.g. songs, poetry) appearing on it. Copyrighted works remain the property of their respective owners; attribution and/or links are provided when known. If there is content appearing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear here, please leave a comment with your email address and a link to the item in question and it will be promptly removed. Your comment will not be made public.


About aquarianman

Aquarian interested in anything to do with the Earth, our Moon, and anything flying around out there in space.
This entry was posted in Astrology, astronomy, Constellations, moon, Mythology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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