Harvest moon to shine this weekend

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September kicks off with a bright full moon, called the harvest moon, set to illuminate the sky on Friday night.


The moon will appear at sundown on Friday evening at approximately 7:39 p.m. EDT and will last until sunrise on Saturday morning, according to NASA. It will glow at its brightest near midnight before dipping low just before dawn. 

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The harvest moon is one of the most widely recognized full moons and is closest to the autumnal equinox. It gets its name due to rising when summer crops are ripe for harvest, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.


Stargazers and astronomy buffs can also expect other treats coming up in September.


A 12-HOUR DAY OF SUNLIGHT COMING UP


The fall equinox marks the beginning of fall for traditionalists who still use the sun to tell time.

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The sun shines squarely on the equator during the fall equinox, giving both the northern and southern hemispheres an equal quantity of sunlight. The alignment takes place on Sept. 22, Thursday, at 9:03 p.m.


Around that time, the equator will receive the sun’s direct beams, which will cause there to be around 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime everywhere on Earth.


JUPITER WILL REACH PEAK VISIBILITY


The moon will appear close to Jupiter early in September, and observers who go outside to see it will likely notice how bright the planet is. As Jupiter approaches opposition in the last week of the month on Sept. 26, it will become increasingly eye-catching.


Astronomers use the word “opposition” when a planet is directly opposite the sun as seen from Earth. During this time, Jupiter will also be closest to the Earth, making it appear brighter than at any other point in the year.

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Because it is so simple to identify because of its characteristics, Jupiter is a popular planet to view with a telescope.


“It’s around this time when the planet’s at its biggest and brightest for telescope viewing,” NASA writes on its website.


“But a pair of binoculars is enough to reveal the giant planet’s four large moons as little starlike points of light next to Jupiter.”

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