Come A Little Bit Closer

Neil Young implores his lover to come a little bit closer … “On this harvest moon” and go “dancing in the light.”

Harvest moons are the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox (in the northern hemisphere). reports that the next occurs on Sept. 13 (Sacramento), rising at approx. 7:32 p.m. (confirm for your location).

Harvest moons are called such, because they put out a lot of bright light in early evening. Traditionally, that has helped farmers bring in the harvest, the Old Farmer’s Almanac tells us.

Rising near sunset, harvest moons glow warmly from sunset light, and when the moon is near the horizon it appears bigger than usual.

Harvest moons also have the shortest difference in the time that they rise each day. Whereas in other months of the year, moons rise about 50 minutes apart on each successive day. Near the autumnal equinox, a harvest moon rises near sunset and 30 minutes later than the previous day.

The short difference in moonrise during September explains why it can appear that there are multiple full moons in a row.

A great thing about harvest moons is that leading to and following the full moon are several moons that appear to be full. So, if you miss photographing it on Sept. 13, shoot on the 11th, 12th, 14th or 15th and it will look pretty full, though not as good as on Sept. 13..

To photograph this year’s harvest moons, use your longest lens (>200mm) then zoom closest to the moon. Set the ISO at 100 and the aperture between f/11 and f/16, whichever is sharpest. Shutter speed should be between 1/60th and 1/125th. Focus manually and at infinity. Secure the camera on a tripod, and use a remote release or timer to avoid camera shake.

Before you set up, visit to know the direction from where the moon will rise. Then, consider the foreground behind which the moon will rise. Will it be buildings, hills, a lake or farmlands?

If you happened to photograph this year’s harvest moons, send images to We’d love to share them, “’cause we’d like to celebrate, see it shinin’ in your eye.”