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Harvest Moon

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The days are getting cooler and shorter.  And for those of you who are bummed about summer being over, just go outside and take a look at the night’s sky for just a moment.  The Harvest Moon will be out, and it will be a sight to behold.

Known as the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox, the Harvest Moon reached its peak early Monday, Sept. 12 at about 5:27 am EDT, Space.com reports.  This year’s fall equinox is set to occur Sept. 23.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Harvest Moon for last year occurred on the fall equinox, a rare occurrence that won’t happen again until 2029.

For those of you, who thought you missed out on your chance to witness Monday morning’s full moon spectacle, think again.  Earthsky.org reports that the Harvest Moon will be visible until Sept. 13.

Mere days before this annual full moon display, a mass blackout occurred around the SoCal region, and, for those who were affected, the power outage was a blast from the past.

According to EarthSky.org, famers used to count on the lamp of the Harvest Moon to gather their crops in the days before electricity.  The Harvest Moon provided dusk-til-dawn moonlight, which greatly made up for the autumn season’s waning daylight.

Although residents in parts of the Socal, Arizona, and Tijuana region were compromised for only a few hours until the problem was resolved by SDG&E, the lack of electricity pointed the majority of us towards the celestial skies, and instead of looking for answers on our laptops or touch-screens, some of us were pondering the same questions that beckoned our ancestors thousand of years ago.

Tonight until tomorrow morning being your last chance to view this year’s Harvest Moon, be sure you make an effort to put away those electronics and check out the full moon display.

According to Chinese folklore, it is said that three fairy sages transformed themselves into pitiful old men and begged food from a fox, a monkey, and a rabbit.  The fox and the monkey offered food to give to the old men, but the rabbit, empty-handed, offered his own flesh by jumping into the blazing fire to cook himself.  The sages were so touched by the rabbit’s sacrifice they let him live in the Moon Palace where he became the “Jade Rabbit.”

2011 being the year of the rabbit under the Chinese Lunar calendar, this story is an especially apt tale to tell to your kids before bed!

Photo courtesy of CJ Isherwood via Flickr

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