• Jeanne Christie

Once in a Blue Moon: The Magic of Moonrise



At some point; all of us have looked up to see a full moon peeking over the top of the trees and slowly rising into the night sky. It’s an incredible site and I often promise myself that I’m going to set a date to be in the right place at the right time to truly enjoy it. During October of 2020 there will be two full moons in the same month. The first occurred October 1 and second moon; the blue moon; will happen October 31st—on Halloween.


There is something mesmerizing about looking through the trees to where a bright white glow begins to shine as the moon moves up into that sky. Then there is a slow ascent above the tree branches. The shape of the moon; the contrast of night and moonlight; it’s a moment of magic. It really is! Across 240,000 miles of space the moon’s gravity of the moon pulls the massive oceans of earth creating tides three times what they would otherwise be. But there is more. Without the moon; a day on earth would only last six to 12 hours because the moon’s gravity also slows the speed that the earth rotates. It is truly a miraculous force of nature.


Finding the right place to watch the moon rise takes a little planning. For a number of years, I taught photography through Adult Education class at the local high school and I always scheduled a class for photographing the full moon. I had some specific criteria. I wanted to select a place with a good view of the moon rising; but to make it more interesting, I also wanted it to be a good place to see the sun setting because it provided the opportunity to play with exposure settings on cameras and take some incredible pictures.


There are a number of sites that provide information on moon rise and moon set times. I want a website that also provides sunrise and sunset times as well as the compass bearing where each will

occur. Finally it’s important for it to be place specific. Moonrise in San Diego occurs at a different time than Portland Maine. The website one that I am currently using is here. There are many others.


While the moon is full on a given day; it looks full a couple days before and after; so I often compare times to pick the one that works best for me. For example; if you want to celebrate Halloween rather than watch the moonrise; a day or two before or a day or two after works—provided the sun has set or is setting.


Looking ahead to the end of October I can see that sunset will occur around 5:30 pm each day through October 31 with a compass bearing of around 250 degrees. Daylight savings time ends on the last day of October so sunset on November 1 is at 4;30 pm local time.


However, the time the moon rises changes every day and so does where it rises.


Thursday, October 29 Moonrise 5:09 pm 86° (almost due east)

Friday, October 30 Moonrise 5:30 pm 78°

Saturday October 31 Moonrise 5:53 pm 73°

November 1 Sunset Moonrise 5:18 pm (daylight savings time ends) 67° (east northeast)




With this information; I can pick a location with great views in both directions; watch the weather report for a clear night, show up; sit back; and enjoy! I hope you will too!