Rare Harvest Moon set to light up the sky tonight on Friday 13th - here's how to see it

13 September 2019, 13:52 | Updated: 13 September 2019, 13:55

There's a Harvest Moon tonight
There's a Harvest Moon tonight. Picture: PA Images/Getty Images

This year's Harvest Moon is also known as a micro-moon and will peak tomorrow morning.

Tonight the skies above the UK will be lit up with a Harvest Moon, falling on "unlucky" Friday 13th for the first time in years.

A Harvest Moon itself is not actually rare, and is simply the name given to a full moon falling closest to the autumnal equinox.

But the last time the Northern Hemisphere's full moon fell on the spooky date of Friday 13th was in the year 2000, and it won’t happen again until 2049.

This year, the Harvest Moon is also a known as a "micro-moon" - the opposite of a supermoon - due to it looking 14% smaller in the sky than an average full moon.

Prepare for a Harvest Moon tonight
Prepare for a Harvest Moon tonight. Picture: PA Images

Maine Farmers’ Almanac astronomer Joe Rao explained the smaller size is due to the position of the moon.

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He told The Express: "To add to this Full Moon ‘madness’, this upcoming Full Moon very nearly coincides with apogee – that point in its orbit which places it at its greatest distance from the Earth: 252,100 miles away.

"Remember last February, when the Full Moon coincided with perigee, its closest point to Earth? The Moon was more than 30,000 miles closer and was accordingly branded a ‘Supermoon’."

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So, when is the Harvest Moon and how can you watch it?

When is the Harvest Moon?

It will appear on the evening of Friday, September 13 and in the UK it’s set to rise at around 19.35 BST, and remain visible in the sky all night, until about 05.19 the next morning.

According to space agency NASA, the Full Moon won’t actually peak until around 5.33am BST but it should appear full for three days centred around the peak.

What is a Harvest Moon?

The Harvest Moon is the name given to the full moon that occurs closest to the September equinox each year, usually on Monday 23rd September.

The name derives from the seasonal crop-gathering that traditionally takes place in September, when farmers depended on bright moonlight to gather their ripening crops in time for market.

You might also hear it referred to as the Full Corn Moon for the same reason.