The first full moon of September is set to rise in the night sky above the UK this week.
Known as the ‘Corn Moon’, it will hit its peak at 6.22am tomorrow (Wednesday, September 2) morning.
Although the full moon will peak on Wednesday, it will be lighting up the sky from this evening through until Thursday morning.
A full moon occurs when the whole side of the moon facing the Earth is lit up by the sun’s rays.
‘When sunlight hits off the Moon’s far side — the side we can’t see without from Earth the aid of a spacecraft — it is called a New Moon. When sunlight reflects off the near side, we call it a Full Moon,’ explains Nasa.
‘The rest of the month we see parts of the daytime side of the Moon, or phases.’
Why isn’t it called the Harvest Moon?
Each full moon has a number of different names – and traditionally the full moon falling at the start of September is known as the Harvest Moon.
That’s usually because it’s the full moon that occurs closest to the September equinox – but in 2020, things are a bit different.
With the equinox falling on September 22 this year, the closest full moon (and therefore the Harvest Moon) will occur on October 1.
So that will become 2020’s Harvest Moon and this week’s lunar showing will be called the Corn Moon.
The name of ‘Harvest Moon’ was given to it because it happened during the time of year when corn was harvested and brought in. The ‘backup name’ of Corn Moon fits this idea of bringing the crop in to harvest.
Where does the name Corn Moon come from?
Each of the moon’s 12 phases has its own name that will often change between cultures. Many of the most recognisable are derived from Native American names that have been picked up and circulated around the internet.
Lunar expert Gordon Johnston from Nasa said: ‘The Maine Farmer’s Almanac first published Native American names for the Full Moons in the 1930s.
‘Over time these names have become widely known and used.
‘According to this almanac, as the Full Moon in September and the last Full Moon of summer, the Algonquin tribes in what is now the northeastern USA called this the Corn Moon, as this was the time for gathering their main staple crops of corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice.’