Blood or Hunter’s Moon to illuminate Wyoming skies

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CASPER, Wyo. — The next full moon is set to occur on Sunday, Oct. 13 but will be visible from Saturday morning through Tuesday morning.

“This will be the Hunter’s Moon, the full Moon after the Harvest Moon,” NASA Program Executive Gordon Johnston explains. “According to the Farmer’s Almanac, with the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt.”

“Since the harvesters have reaped the fields, hunters can easily see the animals that have come out to glean (and the foxes that have come out to prey on them). The earliest use of the term ‘Hunter’s Moon’ cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is from 1710.”

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Other terms for the Hunter’s Moon include:

  • Travel Moon
  • Dying Grass Moon
  • Sanguine Moon
  • Blood Moon
  • Sharad Purina
  • Pavarana with the Boun Suang Huea (boat racing) festival
  • Vap Poya and the Thadingyut Festival

Different cultures refer to this full moon according to their traditions.

“This full Moon occurs around the seasonal end of the monsoon rains in the Indian Subcontinent,” Johnston explains. “For Hindus, this full Moon is Sharad Purina, a harvest festival marking the end of the rains.”

“For Buddhists, this full Moon is Pavarana, the end of Vassa, the three-month period of fasting for Buddhist monks tied to the monsoons (Vassa is sometimes given the English names ‘Rains Retreat’ or ‘Buddhist Lent’).”

Some people in Laos celebrate a Boat Racing Festival corresponding to this phase of the Moon.

“In Sri Lanka, this is the Vap Poya, which is followed by the Kathina festival, during which people give gifts to the monks, particularly new robes (so this lunar month is sometimes called the Month of Robes),” Johnston adds. “In Myanmar the celebration of the end of Vassa is the Thadingyut Festival, also know as the Lighting Festival.”

Johnston says that the Maine Farmer’s Almanac collected American Indian terms for full moons in the 1930’s publications.

“According to this almanac, names for this full Moon from the Algonquin tribes of what is now the northern and eastern United States include the Travel Moon, the Dying Grass Moon, and the Sanguine or Blood Moon,” Johnston says. “Some sources indicate that the Dying Grass, Sanguine, and Blood Moon are thought to be related to the turning of the leaves and dying back of plants with the start of fall.”

“Others indicate that that the names Sanguine or Blood Moon are associated with hunting and the Hunter’s Moon.”

Johnston says the term “Travel Moon” may come from birds and animals migrating this time of year.

“[T]his name may also refer to the season when the more northern tribes would move down from the mountains for the winter,” he adds. “For example, both the Iroquois and Algonquin would hunt in the Adirondacks in the summertime but would leave for winter.”

Jewish holidays also coincide with the start of this full moon.

“In the Hebrew calendar, this full Moon falls near the start of the Sukkoth holiday, a 7-day holiday tied to the 15th day of the lunar month of Tishrei (the 15th day of a lunar month is always close to if not the same as the day of the full Moon),” Johnston says. “Sukkoth is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of the Ingathering.”

“Sukkoth ties back to both the sheltering of the People of Israel during the 40 years in the wilderness in the Book of Leviticus and a harvest festival in the Book of Exodus. Often for this holiday a temporary hut symbolic of a wilderness shelter is built, and the family eats, sleeps, and spends time in this shelter. This year, the 7-day holiday of Sukkoth starts at sunset on October 13, 2019.”