MANY could have been forgiven for thinking that floodlights had been erected outside their home as they went to bed last night.

But the brightness was actually caused by the moon – or, to give the phenomenon its astrological name, the Harvest Moon.

And the cold but clear conditions meant many people were able to get a great view of the celestial occurrence.

The Harvest Moon is the name given to the first full moon rising closest to the autumnal equinox - when the sun shines almost directly over the equator.

For those in the Northern Hemisphere, the Harvest moon rose late this year.

Usually it occurs before the equinox in September, but this year the Harvest Moon came in October.

The name Harvest Moon dates from when farmers needed bright light to extend the working day.

The full moon would light up the night sky and give them more light to work with - allowing them to gather in the crops in preparation for winter.

This year's autumnal equinox came on September 22, making October 5 the Harvest Moon because it was the closest date to a full moon in the calendar.