How the ‘hunter’s moon’ descends on the Earth

Image copyright NASA Image caption The Hunter Moon occurs roughly every 33 months

October’s hunter’s moon is an interesting astronomical event. It arrives when the moon’s separation from the sun is at its maximum.

And the sun’s out too: this means there’s an increased amount of the star’s light reflected on the moon’s surface.

What is the “hunter’s moon”?

Hunter’s moons occur roughly every 33 months, and are named after hunters.

But they have a lot more in common with crescent moons. The northern hemisphere is connected to the moon by a “bone” known as a “garden moon”.

The “hunter’s moon” is not a major celestial body, so it doesn’t produce a monthly orbit changing with the sun, rather it sets closer to the sun, holding more stars.

The moon is smaller and closer during November, due to its proximity to the Earth.

This makes the moon look a little bigger, which is the definition of a hunter’s moon, giving it the term.

But it’s thought that hunter’s moons may also have first appeared when hunting hunter Chris Reynolds took the hunting licence he would subsequently use to achieve his first hunting licence.

Image copyright Alan Bock Image caption This moving photo of the hunter’s moon from April 2006 shows the full moon in the Northern Hemisphere, just before the moon sets.

What do we know about “hunter’s moons” and how is it named?

Originally, most hunter’s moons fell on the exoplanet hunter-hunting summer solstice.

But earlier this year, the summer solstice also fell during a hunter’s moon and, fittingly, astrophysicist A.J. Cornwell was a winning draw for Scientific American’s “Out of this World” Prize for innovative thinking and science-fiction.

Cornwell was awarded $25,000 (around £19,7000) for his idea for introducing that hunter’s moon into the Earth’s history with astrophysics.

The prizes are given by the magazine’s editors to individuals who have “achieved impactful breakthroughs or insights in popular culture, science, or social-change spheres”.

Cornwell’s award-winning essay now appears in Scientific American’s fall issue.

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