The Hunter’s Moon is 2022’s October full moon. It rises near sunset on October 9. The bright light west of the full moon is the planet Jupiter. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.
When and where to look in 2022: Look for the bright, round full moon rising in the east shortly after sunset on October 8, 9, 10 and even 11.
Crest of the full moon falls at 20:55 UTC on October 9. That’s 3:55 p.m. CDT and before moonrise in central North America.
What is a Hunter’s Moon? As seen from the entire globe, a full moon is always opposite the sun. So all full moons rise in the east around sunset. And all full moons set in the west around sunrise. But full moons have different characteristics, mostly related to their paths across the sky. And, shortly after they rise, full moons closest to the September equinox follow a path across the Northern Hemisphere sky that makes a narrow angle with respect to the eastern evening horizon. So – in the early autumn – you might see a bright moon in the east shortly after sunset for several evenings in a row. That is the the Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the September equinox. The Hunter’s Moon is the full moon following the Harvest Moon.
So around October 9, 2022, watch for a full, round moon ascending in the east in early evening. It’s a characteristic of an October Hunter’s Moon to rise around the time of sunset for several evenings in a row.
By the way, the Harvest Moon is the closest full moon to the equinox. So it can come either before or after the equinox. That means the Harvest Moon can sometimes fall in October, which it does in one out of every three or four years. When the Harvest Moon falls in October, the Hunter’s Moon – the full moon following the Harvest Moon – will fall in early November. That’ll happen next in the year 2025.
October full moon meets Jupiter
In 2022, Jupiter is the bright light shining near the full and nearly full moon. Another planet, Saturn, is the dimmer light shining farther west of Jupiter.
On the evenings of October 7 and 8, 2022, the waxing gibbous moon lights the sky near bright Jupiter. Additionally, above the bright planet is a pretty but faint group of 6 stars known as the Circlet in Pisces. Read more about the moon near Jupiter. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.
The October 2022 full moon occurs overnight on October 9 and lies in the constellation Pisces. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.
The Hunter’s Moon is in Pisces
The October Hunter’s Full Moon usually lies in front of one of two constellations of the zodiac. Most years, it lies in Pisces the Fishes, as it does this year. But it infrequently lands in Aries the Ram, as it will next year. Occasionally, like last year, it occurs in the large constellation Cetus the Whale.
The moon is roundest on the day when it is full, but the day before and the day after, the moon appears almost, but not quite full. Also, on the evening before full moon, October 8, Jupiter lies next to the almost full moon.
How did the Hunter’s Moon get its name?
There are many stories surrounding the names of the moons, including the Hunter’s Moon. From a practical standpoint, the Harvest Moon and subsequent Hunter’s Moon provided light in the evenings for farmers and hunters to finish their tasks.
Every full moon has a slew of nicknames tied to months of the year. But some moon names, such as the Harvest and Hunter’s Moons, are tied to seasons. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the September equinox, or autumnal equinox for the Northern Hemisphere. The equinox is either September 22 or 23. So most Harvest Moons come in September. But, every three or four years, the Harvest Moon falls in early October and the Hunter’s Moon in early November.
In North America, the Harvest Moon was a time when the bright moon meant farmers could stay out later, working in their fields, gathering in the crops before the first freeze. After the harvest, farmers would turn to hunting deer and other animals to bolster their food stores before winter. The light of the full moon and the almost full moon would let them hunt into the evening hours. So we call it a Hunter’s Moon.
What makes the Hunter’s Moon special?
Nature is particularly cooperative around the time of the autumn equinox to make the fall full moonrises special. On average, the moon rises about 50 minutes later each day. But when a full moon happens close to the autumnal equinox – either a Harvest or a Hunter’s Moon – the moon (at mid-temperate latitudes) rises about 30 minutes later daily for several days before and after the full moon. The reason is that the ecliptic – or, more exactly, the moon’s orbital path – makes a narrow angle with the eastern horizon around the time of the autumn equinox.
Shortly after they rise, full moons closest to the September equinox follow a path across the Northern Hemisphere sky that makes a narrow angle with respect to the eastern evening horizon. So you might see a bright moon in the east shortly after sunset for several evenings in a row. These are the Harvest Moons and Hunter’s Moons. Note that – by November – the moon’s path with respect to the eastern evening horizon will be steeper. Chart via John Jardine Goss / EarthSky.
The result is that there’s a shorter-than-usual lag time between successive moonrises around the full Hunter’s Moon.
If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, look for the moon to be bright and full-looking for several nights from around October 8 to 11. On these nights, you’ll see a bright round moon ascending in the east relatively soon after sunset for a few days in a row.
A great source for moonrise times is the Custom Sunrise Sunset Calendar. Be sure to click the boxes for “moon phases” and “moonrise and moonset times.”
Is a Hunter’s Moon bigger or brighter?
No. The Hunter’s Moon is just an ordinary full moon with a special path across our sky. Still, many of us do think the Hunter’s Moon looks bigger … or brighter … and more orange than usual. Why?
It’s because the Hunter’s Moon has a powerful mystique. Many people look for it shortly after sunset around the time of full moon. After sunset around any full moon, the moon will always be near the horizon … because full moons rise at sunset. Plus, it’s the location of the moon near the horizon that causes the Hunter’s Moon – or any full moon – to look big and orange in color.
The orange color of a moon near the horizon is a true physical effect. It stems from the fact that, when you look toward the horizon, you’re looking through a greater thickness of Earth’s atmosphere than when you gaze up overhead. The atmosphere scatters blue light, which is why the sky looks blue. The greater thickness of atmosphere in the direction of a horizon scatters blue light most effectively, but it lets red light pass through to your eyes. So, a full moon near the horizon – any full moon near the horizon – takes on a yellow or orange or reddish hue.
As for the bigger-than-usual size of a moon seen near the horizon, that is something else entirely. It’s a trick that your eyes are playing – an illusion – called the Moon Illusion.
October full moon images from our EarthSky Community
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Donald Gargano captured this image on October 20, 2021, and wrote: “Full Hunter’s Moon rising behind Nubble Lighthouse, York, Maine.” Thank you, Donald!
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Susan Jensen in Odessa, Washington, captured the Hunter’s Moon on October 20, 2021. She wrote: “I watched the full Hunter’s Moon rise tonight from my back yard.” Thank you, Susan!
Bottom line: The Hunter’s Moon – the October full moon – is on October 9, 2022. Also, look for bright Jupiter near the full moon. It is in the constellation Pisces.