This year’s annual harvest moon–the closest full moon to the autumnal equinox–will peak in illumination at 6 AM on Friday. Typically, the harvest moon signifies a farewell to the summer and start to fall, and this year it will welcome the spooky season in spectacular fashion. Look up at the sky on Thursday night, and if the clouds aren’t too thick, you’ll be greeted with a big, brilliant “supermoon.”
A supermoon occurs when the moon is both full and at its closest point in its orbit to Earth, causing the moon to appear about 14 percent bigger than it normally does. This year the stars aligned to produce three supermoons throughout the summer, with a fourth coming at the end of this week. Though the moon will be at its most brilliant in the early hours of Friday morning, the best viewing hours will fall on Thursday night (perfect for those who don’t enjoy sunrise runs by the Mall). However, expect the sky to stay bright for at least a few nights from the effects of the full moon.
The harvest supermoon marks an end to more than just the summer season. This will be the last full supermoon visible for almost a year, with the next occurring in late September 2024.
Luckily, you won’t have to cancel your weekend plans to stop by the many festivals and events happening near DC to witness this bright goodbye to summer. Head to Rockville for a Harvest Moon Hike to admire the moon’s glow on the natural world. Or stay in DC, as outdoor activities found during the Art All Night festival and World Culture Festival this weekend will be lit up by the supermoon’s aftereffects.