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Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Full Moon of Succoth

Succoth, beginning on the 15th of the month of Tishrei, always coincides with the full moon. This year we enjoyed a real astronomical treat as the first night of Succoth, September 22, also coincided with the Autumnal Equinox, the beginning of Fall in the northern hemisphere, perfect for the harvest holiday of Succoth. And since the Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox, the full moon of Succoth was also this year's Harvest Moon. Because of the steep inclination the ecliptic makes with the horizon in the east this time of year, the full moon rises only 25 minutes later each night, instead of the more usual 45-50 minutes later, giving farmers the advantage of its light after sunset to continue their harvesting. This is what gives the full moon of September its name.

This year, in addition, the moon was joined by spectacular  Jupiter,  shinning  at  magnitude -2.9, the brightest it has been since 1963 and the brightest it will be until 2022.

The photo below was taken by John Morris, and it shows well what the scene looked like to the naked eye.

Chag Sameach from Mitzpe Ramon.

The Harvest Moon of Succoth, joined by Jupiter. (Photo by John Morris)

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