Traditionally, each month’s full moon has been given a name, although these names differ according to the source. Other moons include the Wolf Moon in January, the Strawberry Moon in June, the Sturgeon Moon in August, the Cold Moon in December, and the Pink Moon in April. The Hunter’s Moon, which is also known as blood moon or sanguine moon, is October’s full moon. It follows the Harvest Moon, which is September’s moon. Sometimes though, the Harvest Moon is mistaken for the Hunter’s Moon because once every four years or so the Harvest Moon is in October instead of September. When that happens, the Hunter’s Moon is in November.
Hunter’s Moon got its name from the brightness of the moon, which makes it ideal for hunters at night in Northern Europe. This full moon was also supposedly named that by Native Americans who hunted game for the winter by its light. All of the full moons have different characteristics due to the location of the ecliptic at the time of each full moon; the ecliptic is the path of the Sun, and since the Moon orbits with the Sun it also moves throughout the year.
Although typically the Moon rises 50 minutes later each day, that is different for the Hunter’s Moon – as well as the Harvest Moon. Both of these moons usually rise 30 minutes later on each successive night. This means that sunset and moonrise are not far apart, which is part of the reason why these moons helped hunters and farmers finish their work – there is less time without light during these two months. This difference between the moons’ sunset and moonrise times is due to the orbit of the Moon. The angle that the Moon makes with the horizon is narrower during this time, meaning it is higher in the sky. The Hunter’s Moon is generally not bigger or brighter than any of the other full moons. Thus, the only difference between the Hunter’s Moon and other full moons is the time between sunset and moonrise is shorter.
The Hunter’s Moon is also associated with feasting. In the Northern Hemisphere, some American Indian tribes and some places in Western Europe held a feast day. This feast day, the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon, was basically no longer held by the 1700’s. However, there is a historical reenactment of it every October in Lafayette, Indiana.
Astronomy Cast has an episode on the Moon.