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The Buzz

The Harvest Moon is Coming and It's Guaranteed to Mess With Your Head

(Photo via Shutterstock)

We're seeing all sorts of signs of fall, from fungus dotting the forest floor, migrating birds overhead and spiders seemingly everywhere, and there's another big sign right around the corner: The harvest moon.

This full moon will emerge from the horizon on the evening of Monday, September 24.

What makes this one so special?

While it is a bit smaller than your average full moon, this one will look bigger and more colorful than others.

The orange glow of the moon is a result of it rising almost as soon as the sun sets. With the moon being so close to the horizon, you'll be looking at it through a greater thickness of the Earth's atmosphere. That results in blue light being absorbed and red light being transmitted.

That's where the orange glow comes from. 

Even though the moon may appear massive, we have some bad news: It's all in your head. Go ahead and blame the "moon illusion." 

There are many theories on this illusion, but one of them leans on the Ebbinghaus Illusion.

When the moon is close to the horizon, there are many visual reference points. Things such as buildings, trees and mountains in the foreground play a bit of trickery on your brain.


Equally as mind-blowing is that children younger than 7 years old seemingly do not fall victim to the illusion. So what may seem impressivly big to you on the horizon likely won't get much of a reaction out of the little ones.

But even if what you're seeing may not be a true representation of the moon, it's still worth keeping your fingers crossed and hoping Mother Nature cooperates with some clear skies.

The visuals — illusions or not — can still be incredibly cool to look at.


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