What Is a Hunter's Moon? October 2022 Full Moon Meaning Explained

The next full moon in October is known as the Hunter's Moon. But where did this name come from?

The Hunter's moon will reach peak illumination around 4:54 p.m. eastern time on Sunday, October 9, at which point it will be below the horizon in North America, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Skygazers who want to catch a glimpse of the full moon will have to wait until after sunset for it to become visible.

Full moons are a lunar phase that occur roughly once every month when our natural satellite is located opposite the sun in space, with the Earth in between. That is why all full moons rise around the time of sunset and set about the time of sunrise.

During the full-moon phase, the side facing us is completely illuminated by the sun's light, appearing like a perfect circle in the sky.

The traditional names given to the full moons originate from a number of places and historical periods, including from Native American, colonial American and European sources.

The name for the Hunter's Moon likely originated from the fact that this event marked an ideal time go hunting for animals ahead of the long, cold winter, Catherine Boeckmann, senior digital editor for The Old Farmer's Almanac, told Newsweek.

"The added moonlight was useful for hunting," she said.

Given that farmers had previously cleared out their fields following the harvest, animals, such as deer, that were putting on weight before the winter, would have been more easily visible.

"Since the farmers had recently cleaned out their fields under the Harvest Moon, hunters could easily see the deer and other animals that had come out to root through the remaining scraps," Boeckmann said.

A full moon
Stock image: A full moon. During the full-moon phase, the side of our natural satellite that faces us is completely illuminated by the sun's light, iStock

Unlike most of the traditional full-moon names, which are tied to a specific month of the year, the Hunter's Moon and the preceding Harvest Moon are both linked to an astronomical event—the Northern Hemisphere's autumnal equinox, which usually falls on September 22 or 23.

The full moon that occurs closest to this equinox is dubbed the Harvest Moon. And whichever full moon follows the Harvest Moon is referred to as the Hunter's Moon.

Given that moon cycles, which are slightly shorter than a month, do not line up neatly with the widely used Gregorian calendar, the Harvest Moon can occur in September or October, while the Hunter's Moon may appear in October or November.

This year, the Harvest Moon arrived on September 10, meaning the Hunter's Moon falls in October in 2022.

Other traditional names for the full moon in October include the Travel Moon, the Dying Grass Moon, or the Sanguine or Blood Moon, which originate with the Native American Algonquin tribes from what is now the northeastern United States.

The latter two names may be a reference to blood and hunting, but they might also have been associated with the changing color of leaves and dying back of plants around this time of year.

The Travel Moon name may be a reference to birds and other animals migrating ahead of the winter season, or it could be tied to the fact that tribes living in mountainous regions in the north would move south at this time of year.

Alternative names for the full moon in October include the Falling Leaves Moon and Freezing Moon. The former comes from the Anishinaabe Native American group and is a reference to the transformation that trees undergo at this time of year. The latter originates with the Ojibwe and refers to the trend of decreasing temperatures as winter in North America approaches.