The Hunter's Moon Will Glow in Peak, Orange Glory This Weekend

By: Valerie Stimac  | 
Hunter moon
The hunter's moon rises big and beautiful, Oct. 20, 2021. Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto/Getty Images

When it comes to astronomical events and phenomena, there is no shortage of catchy nicknames out there. As the most obvious object in the night sky, the moon has long been a target for many of these memorable monikers, ranging from the "super blue blood moon" (referring to a total lunar eclipse that occurred during the second full moon of January 2018) to monthly nicknames for each time the moon reaches its full phase.

This month, the moon's nickname is surprisingly fitting for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere: the hunter's moon. Read on if you're curious to learn more about why the moon has this particular nickname at this time of year, and other unique characteristics of the hunter's moon.


This Year's Hunter's Moon Happens in Early October

In 2022, the hunter's moon will occur at 21:49 GMT on Oct. 9. For many viewers in the western hemisphere, this means that the exact moment of the full moon will occur during daylight hours and so will not be visible — but the moon will be bright and visible in the sky that night.


Hunter's Moon Can Occur in November in Other Years

Interestingly, the cycle of nicknames of the moon are based around one particular full moon: the harvest moon, which is the full moon nearest the September equinox (also called the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere). In 2022, the harvest moon occurred Sept. 10, but some years it occurs after the equinox (which is usually around Sept. 21), and thus the next full moon — the hunter's moon — can occur in November, and all of the other full moon nicknames shift a month "forward" on the calendar in years when that occurs.


The Hunter's Moon Has Many Names

Many of the nicknames for each month's full moons are obvious; others require a bit of deciphering to understand their origins and meanings. October's hunter's moon is one of the more easily understood, and it's likely because it comes from the time of year when hunting traditionally took place in advance of the long winter ahead.

The earliest use of the term "hunter's moon," dates to 1710 in the Oxford English Dictionary, and doesn't have a specific origin; it likely dates back to Eastern U.S. Native American groups as many of the other full moon nicknames do.


Other nicknames for the hunter's moon — or the first full moon after the harvest moon — include drying rice moon, a Dakota name describing the process of preparing rice for winter; the falling leaves moon, from the Anishinaabe people, which highlights the transition between summer and fall; the freezing moon (Ojibwe people) or ice moon (Haida people), both of which refer to the increasingly cold temperatures as winter approaches; and the migrating moon name, the Cree people use to refer to the time when birds begin to fly south to warmer climates.

Every Lunar Cycle Has Other Names

In addition to calling the October full moon a "hunter's moon," each of the 12 other lunar cycles has many other names that have been passed down through history. Upcoming months reveal the changing weather in the Northern Hemisphere as winter approaches. The full moon in December is called the cold moon, and in February, it's called the snow moon.


Hunter’s Moon FAQ

Why is the October full moon called the Hunters moon?
The October full moon is called the Hunter's Moon because it was historically the signal for Native Americans to begin to gather meat for the winter ahead.
How often does the hunter's moon occur?
The Hunter's Moon occurs once every year, following the Harvest Moon.
What is the difference between the Hunter's Moon and the Harvest Moon?
The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the September equinox. The Hunter’s Moon is the first full moon following the Harvest Moon.
What is the rarest moon?
The most uncommon moon is the Blue Moon, which occurs every two to three years.