Q. What is a harvest moon? A. Simply put, the harvest moon is the full moon that occurs closest     to the date of the autumn equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. Some people claim that the harvest moon shines brighter and more golden than during normal full moons. However, since the time between moonrises on successive nights is shorter in autumn than at any other time of year, there is very little darkness between sunset and moonrise. The continuance of the moonlight after sunset is useful to farmers in northern latitudes, who are then harvesting their crops. The full moon following the harvest moon, which exhibits the same phenomena in a lesser degree, is called the hunter's moon. A similar phenomenon to the harvest moon is observed in southern latitudes at the spring equinox on about March 21.

 Q. Does the harvest moon always occur in September? A. No, It depends on the date of the full moon with relationship to the equinox. While it's a fact that most harvest moons do occur in September you need only to check 2001 to see that it can, from time to time, fall in October.

Q. How do I determine the date of a harvest moon?
A. Step 1. - Find the date of the autumn equinox for the year desired.
(Example: The autumn equinox for the year 2001 occurs on Sept. 22nd)

Step 2. - Now determine the full moon dates for both September and October.
Septembers full moon is on the 2nd. Octobers full moon is on the 2nd.

 September 2001 October 2001
 Step 3.  Count the number of days from the equinox to the September full moon. 9/22 -> 9/2 = 20 days. Step 4.  Count the number of days from the equinox to the October full moon. 9/22 -> 10/2 = 10 days. Conclusion  And the "Harvest Moon" winner is October 2nd.

 A Few Harvest Moon Dates...
Harvest Moons 2000-2003
Year Equinox Date Harvest Moon Date
2000 Sep. 22nd Sep. 23rd
2001 Sep. 22nd Oct. 2nd
2002 Sep. 23rd Sep. 21st
2003 Sep. 23rd Sep. 10th

Q. Are there any songs about the harvest moon ?
A. Plenty, But this is probably the most famous one of all.
 Shine On Harvest Moon By Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth - 1903 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.