2020 Harvest Moon Meaning & Significance

Photo: astrostar / shutterstock
couple in front of the moon

Also known as the Hunter Moon in some cultures, the Harvest Moon has provided extra light into the early evening for many years. But there is more to learn about the Harvest Moon meaning and its spiritual significance. 

When is the Harvest Moon in 2020?

According to, this year's Harvest Moon will appear “October 1 at 21:05 Universal Time. At U.S. time zones, that translates to October 1, at 6:05 p.m. ADT, 5:05 p.m. EDT, 4:05 p.m. CDT, 3:05 p.m. MDT, 2:05 p.m. PDT, 1:05 p.m. Alaskan Time and 11:05 a.m. Hawaiian Time.” 

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How did the Harvest Moon get its name? 

The Harvest Moon got its name from farmers as they noticed when the sun had set there was still light outside from the unique moon in the sky. Because the moon comes out during autumn evenings throughout the Northern Hemisphere, they were able to assign the name Harvest Moon to reflect on its light which helped during the harvest season.

It also might have been popularized by the 1903 song "Shine On Harvest Moon" by Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth:

“Shine on, shine on harvest moon Up in the sky, I ain’t had no lovin’

Since January, February, June or July Snow time ain’t no time to stay

Outdoors and spoon, So shine on, shine on harvest moon, For me and my gal.”

What causes the harvest moon?

The Farmer's Almanac explains that the Moon’s orbital motion carries it more eastward night-to-night. A normal moonrise means that the Moon will occupy a place on the celestial sphere, but when Earth turns toward that specific point almost 24 hours later, the Moon has already moved off to the east about 12 degrees, to which the Earth takes about 50 minutes longer to rotate towards the Moon in its new position. 

When it comes time for the Harvest Moon to rise, it rises about the same time as the Earth. This is because the Moon is in a section of the zodiac constellation band where a full moon travels nightly, and during autumn the Moon forms a shallow angle with the eastern horizon. 

Because the Moon’s orbit is parallel to the horizon at that specific time, its relationship with the eastern horizon does not change. And during this, the Earth does not turn as far to face the Moon. 

Some nights before and after the Harvest Moon, it might rise about 23 minutes later, meaning there will be extra light at the peak harvest time that occurs near autumn. When the Moon reaches its last quarter, the normal 50-minute delay returns and this will change by the time spring comes around. 

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What is the significance of the harvest moon?

The reason why the Harvest Moon is very significant is that out of the 12 moon cycles each year, the Harvest Moon only rises on average about 50 minutes later each day but closer to the autumn equinox is only 30 minutes later.

The Full Harvest Moon will rise at sunset and for several nights in a row, will rise near sunset.

What does the harvest moon mean spiritually?

This year, the Harvest Moon is a sign to capture one’s dreams. The month of October should be a way for one to get themselves up and reach for their goals instead of waiting around for their goals to reach them. 

Previous months were used to plan and reflect on one’s life. Now is the time to aim at that target and be ready to charge into new territories that will give one more confidence in themselves and their abilities. 

The full moon will be in Aries, which may bring about a feeling of insecurity. There are special rituals you can partake in to ease your stress and make the most of this moon season.

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Isabell Tenorio is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture, love and relationship topics.