Guess what happens tonight? Strawberry Moon! Strawberry Moon!
All hail the Strawberry Moon! This evening, our warm summer skies will be colorfully lit-up with a blush-toned circular moon that’s sure to mystify the inner-stargazer in all of us.
Once dusk falls, night owls all around the globe should expect to be amazed by a spectacularly full and rosy moon that makes its feature debut around this time every June. Cleverly named by the Algonquian Native American people to signal that it was time to gather ripening fruit (i.e. strawberries!), the Strawberry Moon, better known by Europeans as the Rose Moon, will turn precisely full on June 2, 2015 at 16:19 Universal Time. For West-coasters, that would be 9:19am, East-coasters 12:19pm, and for all those in the middle, 11:19am and 10:19am for the Central and Mountain time zones, respectively.
Since the particular time frames of this year’s moon rising come a little before midday for most North American residents, we won’t, unfortunately, be able to clearly witness the exact moment it occurs—when the moon is beneath the horizon and under our feet, when it becomes astronomically full to reside most directly opposite the sun. However, this certainly won’t stop us from experiencing an especially bright glare once dusk rolls around, decorating our Tuesday night sky with some brilliant extra light.
Full moons were originally named by Native Americans who kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each and every recurring full moon. These names were applied to the entire month in which each would occur. February’s moon, for example, is known as the full snow moon because that is when the heaviest snows traditionally fall. The full moon in May, as you would have guessed, is known as the Flower Moon because flowers are abundant everywhere during that time. While September’s full moon is thought of as the Corn Moon because it signals the beginning of the harvest season. Interesting stuff, right? To learn more about all the various names of full moons, look here.
In technical speak, we’ll be viewing what’s called a waxing gibbous moon in the morning and a waning gibbous moon during the evening. But all we really need to know is that the moon is set to stay beautiful and full all night long, in North America and around the world, as it lights up the nighttime from dusk until dawn.
Bottom line: Look carefully for the full Strawberry Moon as soon as the sun sets this afternoon. It should be low in the southeast, very far from Saturn and Antares—which means we just might be able to catch a quick glimpse of planet Saturn and the star Antares mingling close to the moon as well!