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A full "Corn Moon" rises tonight — and it only happens once every three years

Nature: Full moon
Nature: Full moon 00:46

The final full moon of the summer rises bright in the night sky on Tuesday. Known as the "Corn Moon," it only happens once every three years. 

September's full moon was given its name by the Algonquin tribes living in the northeastern U.S., according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. They named it for the time of year when they harvested staple crops like corn, pumpkins, squash, beans and wild rice.

According to NASA, this full moon is also known at the Fruit Moon and Barley Moon in Europe, the Hungry Ghost Moon in China, the Binara Pura Pasalosvaka Poya Day in Sri Lanka and the Honey Full Moon for Buddhists in Bangladesh and Thailand. For Hindus in India, it marks the end of the 10-day celebration of Onam and the start of Pitri Paksha, which honors their ancestors through food offerings. 

NASA also refers to this full moon as the GRAIL Moon, the LADEE moon and the OSIRIS-REx Moon to mark three missions that launched on the day of the full moon, in 2011, 2013 and 2016, respectively. 

Typically, September's full moon is called the Harvest moon, because it is the closest to the fall equinox on September 22. But every third year, a full moon comes in October that is closer to the equinox, allowing September's full moon to use its traditional name, the Corn Moon. 

The Harvest Moon Rises Behind the Statue of Liberty in New York City
The full Harvest Moon rises above the Statue of Liberty in New York City on September 13, 2019 as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

This year, the Harvest moon won't arrive until October 1. That means October gets two full moons — the other is a Blue Moon, occurring on Halloween, October 31. 

The full moon will rise just after sunset on Tuesday, September 1, reaching peak illumination at 1:22 A.M. EST early Wednesday morning, NASA said. The moon will appear full for about three days around this time, and skywatchers may also be able to see Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury in the night sky around this time. 

"As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon," NASA said. 

"And you might want to gather your fruits, vegetables, and other staples; avoid war; remember your ancestors; ask for forgiveness; and let go of grudges," the space agency added, referencing the customs of various religions and cultures during the month of September. "Here's wishing you have a good year!" 

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