Back to: Weekend Sky Report
June 05, 2020
The Strawberry Moon was officially full this afternoon when it was on the other side of the planet, but it’ll still look pretty “sweet” all weekend.
It’s called the Strawberry Moon because June is the month when strawberries are ripe for the picking in much of the US. It’s also why we usually see so many strawberry festivals this time of year, but we’ll have to wait until next year for those to come back.
The Strawberry Moon will rise to the southeast on Friday night just before 10pm. When the full moon is low on the horizon, it can sometimes assume a color like yellow or even orange, depending on atmospheric conditions. It can even look bigger. As the moon rises higher and higher, it often loses that color and appears brighter, though smaller. It may seem like the moon is shrinking, but it’s actually an optical illusion. The moon is no bigger when it’s low than when it’s directly overhead. When the moon is closer to the horizon, we have foreground objects to compare it to, so it can seem much bigger. And let’s be honest, it does make for better photos.
Of course, you can celebrate the strawberry moon from your own home with binoculars or a telescope. The full moon is a striking sight through the eyepiece, but many of the moon’s best details are washed out when it’s fully illuminated. But one feature you’ll notice if you look closely at tonight’s full moon is the Tycho crater. It’s the big, deep crater to the south with what looks like spikes coming off of it. That’s ejecta from the impact that created it over 100 million years ago. Apollo 17 astronauts collected some of it for analysis, which is part of how we can estimate its age.
So take some time to appreciate the Strawberry Moon this weekend. With or without shortcake.