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Don’t be scared, but a rare ‘micro’ Harvest Moon will appear on Friday the 13th

What is the harvest moon?

The "harvest moon" is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, the beginning of northern fall.
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The "harvest moon" is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, the beginning of northern fall.

What sounds like the beginning of a bad horror film will be a reality this week when the full Harvest Moon rises as the sun sets on Friday the 13th.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, this year’s Harvest Moon — the full moon that coincides most closely with the Fall Equinox on Sept. 23 — falls on what the superstition among us consider the unluckiest of days, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.

“Nationwide we haven’t had a Friday the 13th full Moon since October 13th, 2000,” the Almanac reported. “And it won’t happen again until August 13th, 2049!”

The east coast did catch a glimpse of the moon turning full before midnight on Friday the 13th in 2014, according to the Almanac, but the rest of the country witnessed it the day before.

This year, the opposite is true.

East coast residents won’t see the moon reach its fullest until 12:33 a.m. on Saturday, NASA said.

“But if you live elsewhere in the country — in the Central, Mountain, or Pacific time zones — the moment that the Moon turns full comes before midnight on Friday, the 13th!” the Farmer’s Almanac said.

What makes it special

The Harvest Moon is unique because it rises about a half an hour later each day right around the time the sun is setting, according to the Almanac. The moon typically rises almost an hour later each day during the rest of the year.

“This results in an abundance of bright moonlight early in the evening, which helped “farmers and crews harvesting their summer-grown crops,” the Old Farmer’s Almanac states. “Hence, it’s called the ‘Harvest’ Moon!”

In Charlotte, the Harvest Moon is expected to rise at 7:43 p.m. on Friday the 13th, according to Time and Date. The sun will set roughly ten minutes before at 7:33 p.m.

The moon will rise about 30 minutes later on Sept. 14 at 8:11 p.m. and another 30 minutes later on Sept.. 15 at 8:39 p.m.

It will also be at its farthest orbital point from the earth on Friday, making the moon appear about 14 percent smaller, according to the Almanac. It’s been dubbed a “micro moon” as a result.

But the Almanac reported viewers likely won’t be able to tell the difference.

Why people are (maybe) freaked out

Full moons and Friday the 13th are associated with a slew of folklore and superstitions.

According to the History Channel, negative associations with Friday the 13th are rooted in “biblical tradition” — 13 guests attended the Last Supper before Jesus was crucified on Good Friday.

The fear of Friday the 13th even has its own name: paraskevidekatriaphobia, the History Channel reported.

Police and hospital workers also share a long held belief that “more crime and trauma occur on nights when the moon is full,” according to ABC News.

“One 1995 University of New Orleans study found that as many as 81 percent of mental health professionals believe the myth,” the media outlet reported.

Scientific research, however, has shown there is no significant connection between full moons and human behavior, the ABC News story said.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumn equinox.

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Hayley is a Real Time reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking news and trending stories in the Carolinas. She also created the Observer’s unofficial bird beat (est. 2015) with a summer full of ornithological-related content, including a story about Barred Owls in love.
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