Hey, Sky Fans!
There’s a lot going on around here today, so I need to make this one snappy. I promised I’d remind you about this, so away we go!
Your skies tomorrow night, June 9, will be alight with the Full Strawberry Moon, June’s full Moon. It’s so named because of all the strawberry plants that tend to be doing whatever it is strawberry plants do in June. Around my garden the answer is “dying.” It’s also called the Full Honey Moon. There’s lots of weddings in June, so that might be where that after-wedding trip got its name.
These full Moon nicknames go back to a time when people were more agrarian than we tend to be now, and the natural cycles of things going in the sky were more important to the timing of life. Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, this full Moon will not turn pink. It will not look like honey, and it will not like strawberries. It will be interesting for a couple of reasons. though.
First, tonight, June 8, you’ll see the effectively full Moon in a terrific triangle with the second biggest planet in our solar system, Saturn, and the gorgeous bright reddish star Antares. Antares is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius, the scorpion, and is the 15th brightest in the entire night sky.
Then, tomorrow, the Full Moon will rise alongside Saturn. The two will be very close together, separated by only about three degrees, the width of a finger held out at arm’s length. That’s about the distance the Moon appeared to be from Jupiter last weekend.
The moment of fullness, which is the moment when the Moon moves in its orbit so that it’s directly opposite the Sun in our skies, is at 13:09 GMT June 9. In the US, that’s 9:09 A.M. Eastern, 8:09 Central, 7:09 Mountain, and 6:09 Pacific. So, we say the full Moon is tomorrow, but it’ll look pretty close to full both nights
A couple of other websites have made mention of the fact that this full Moon will be a bit smaller than others. It’s true. The Moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle, so there are times when it’s closer to the Earth and times when it’s farther. This full Moon happens near apogee, the farthest point in the Moon’s orbit. Farther things look smaller than nearer things, so this full Moon will look a little smaller than others. You’ll really need to have been paying attention to notice, though, and it won’t make that big a difference.
If you’re up early enough on the 10th, maybe around 6:00 A.M., grab your coffee and look to the west, where you’ll be treated a setting full Moon. It’s quite a sight. After the full Moon, we’ll be on our way to the waning phases, and you’ll be able to see a setting gibbous for the next couple of mornings, which is also terrific.
I love these times, when we have a shot at seeing our neighbors bright, and right in front of us. I hope you’ll head out and have a look, too. Clear skies, everyone!