You’ve probably noticed the Moon getting brighter recently—and that can only mean one thing. A full Moon is on its way, but this one—the “Strawberry Moon”—is unique.
Here’s everything you need to know about May’s full “Strawberry Moon:”
1. It will look best the night before it’s full
Although the moment of full Moon is on June 4, 2023 at 03:41 UTC (23:41 p.m EDT on June 3), it will look best at moonrise on Saturday, June 3, 2023 for anyone in North America, Europe or Africa. That will be very close to sunset, but check the exact moonrise where you are.
2. It will be perfectly aligned with sunset
A perfect alignment of sunset and moonrise times on June 4, 2023 means that from across the western hemisphere it will be possible to watch the the “Strawberry Moon” appear in the east as the Sun dips below the horizon in the west. Those on the west coast of NOrth America will also be able to see the full Moon rise at almost the precise moment that it appears 100%-illuminated.
3. It’s the lowest full Moon of the year
A low-hanging Moon occurs when our satellite rises and sets without getting far above the southern horizon. That’s what happens this month, as seen from the northern hemisphere. Why? The Moon is low and the night is short because the Sun is high and the day is long.
The Moon orbits roughly on the same plane as the Sun—the ecliptic—which is high in the day and low in the night as seen from northerly latitudes at this time of year. In the northern hemisphere, the Sun reaches its highest point of the year at midday on the date of the summer solstice—June 21, 2023—so around the time of June’s full Moon our satellite seems at its lowest.
4. It will look really big when it’s on the horizon
A consequence of a low-hanging Moon is that it appears to look unnaturally big as it appears on the horizon. This is an illusion and is connected to how humans perceive size. When the Moon is viewed close to buildings, trees and mountains, it seems bigger. It’s easier to appreciate this “Moon illusion” in summer because when the Moon is almost full on the several evenings either side of the official “full” Moon phase it’s much lower on the horizon that at other times of year.
5. It will look orange like a sunset
As the Sun sets and the sky begins to darken, an orange full Moon will come into view on the opposite horizon, eventually casting a warm glow over the landscape. Why is it orange? When you look at a sunset, a sunrise, a moonrise or moonset, you’re looking at something close to the horizon, where the atmosphere is thickest close to the planet. While short wavelength colors, such as blue and green, strike particles in the atmosphere and are scattered, colors with longer wavelengths, such as yellow, orange and red, pass through the atmosphere uninhibited—and more easily reach your eyes. It’s called Rayleigh scattering.
6. A bright summer star will be very close
Look just below the full Moon as it rises and you’ll see the red supergiant star Antares, the brightest star in the summer constellation of Scorpius. It’s 554.5 light-years from the solar system.
7. It’s the final non-supermoon until October
Next month’s full Moon, the “Buck Moon,” will be the year’s first of four supermoons. In fact, there won’t be another full Moon considered average until October 28, 2023’s “Hunter’s Moon.”
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
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