COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s something that happens only once every couple of decades: a full moon on Friday the 13th visible across virtually the entire nation.
The modern-day superstitions that come with Friday the 13th and a full moon combine when both occurrences happen on the same night.
The full moon closest to the autumnal (fall) equinox (coming Sept. 23) is traditionally known as the Harvest Moon, which provided extra light for farmer’s to stay busy by moonlight in the days before tractors, according to historical sources.
According to NBC4 meteorologist Ben Gelber, this will also be a micromoon — the opposite of a supermoon, defined as a full or new moon when Earth and the moon are closest together (perigee).
Don Stevens, Director of Perkins Observatory at Ohio Wesleyan University, explained that “the moon’s orbit is not a perfect circle… actually an ellipse.”
This weekend the moon’s orbit will near its farthest point from Earth (apogee), at a distance of 252,511 miles, according to Astronomy magazine. The moon will appear 7 percent smaller than the usual full moon, a difference barely discernible to a seasoned observer, and 14 percent smaller than a supermoon.
The Farmers’ Almanac says the last time the full moon nearest the equinox was seen virtually nationwide on the superstitious day was October 13, 2000. However, a full moon was visible for those living on the East Coast on June 13, 2014. The next event nationwide won’t happen again until August 13, 2049.
The Almanac says the average occurrence of a full moon on this day is about once every 20 years.
Technically speaking, the full moon this weekend in the Eastern Time Zone, including here in Ohio, won’t happen until 12:33 a.m. on Sept. 14, but who’s counting? Folks living in the Central, Mountain, Pacific and Alaskan time zones will enjoy the full moon before midnight.
Stevens added that there is no correlation between the moon phase and the superstitions attached to Friday 13th,” despite anecdotes to the contrary.” He said we should “rest easy and put your magical good luck totems away for a while.”