Around the world, skygazers love to watch the phases of the moon. Here in Chicago, we will enjoy a special full moon on September 29. Since it is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, when the hours of daylight and nighttime in the day are equal, it is known as the Harvest Moon.
This year, the Harvest Moon will also appear larger than usual, which is often called a supermoon. According to the Adler Planetarium, "Because supermoons occur when the Moon is at its closest distance to Earth, it can appear up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than a Full Moon at its longest distance from Earth."
At this time of year, there are also many festivals celebrating the fall harvest across the globe. Let's explore some great kids' books to read by the light of the Harvest Moon!
Youngsters may have interesting ideas about what the moon actually is. In Kitten's First Full Moon, Kitten thinks the moon is a bowl of milk in the sky! She has quite an adventure, facing a number of challenges trying to get a good drink of milk. Will she succeed?
Many celebrations involve special food to enjoy with our families and friends. Mooncakes is the story of a young girl who gets to stay up late to enjoy the Chinese Moon Festival with her parents, including eating the round mooncakes that represent the circle of her family. Her parents share three stories from Chinese folklore while they sit beneath the full moon and eat their sweet treats.
In Ancient Night, Rabbit kept the moon glowing by pouring it full of aguamiel, the sacred sap of the maguey (or agave) plant. When Opossum got jealous and made the moon go dark, he realized he had to correct his mistake and put the sun in the sky. Learn more about the folktales of Mesoamerica, what is now Mexico and Central America, woven from several different cultures into this story of the moon and sun.
Have you ever considered how far away the moon is from Earth? How can we even understand the size and distance of something so big and so far away? Read Your Place in the Universe to explore relative sizes, from inches to light-years!
If thinking about how small we are in the vastness of the universe leaves you feeling a little anxious, you might relate to the kid in A Bed of Stars. To ease some worries, Dad proposes a camping trip in the desert. They name the plants and animals they see on their journey and then make up names for the stars to make them feel more familiar.
In Ada and the Galaxies, the city lights at home make it hard for young Ada to see the stars. She is excited to visit her grandparents, Ama and Poobah, in Maine because the sky is clearer. After kayaking and birdwatching and waiting and waiting and waiting all day to look at the stars, she is disappointed when the fog rolls in and blocks her view. But Poobah has a plan, sharing pictures of stars and galaxies to feed Ada's curiosity. And just before bedtime, the fog rolls out, so Ada and her family can marvel at the stars and wave to distant galaxies.
Beneath the moon, Harvest Days are celebrated around the world. Learn about festivals like Chuseok in South Korea, Homowo in Ghana, and Martes de Challa in Bolivia, among many more.
How will you celebrate the Harvest Moon?