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June full moon 2020: The 'Strawberry Moon' brings a penumbral lunar eclipse

The full moon of June, also called the Strawberry Moon, will occur the morning of Friday, June 5, at 3:12 p.m. EDT (1912 GMT), just a few minutes before entering a penumbral lunar eclipse, according to NASA's SkyCal

Observers in New York City will see the full moon set at about 5:17 a.m. local time on June 5, according to timeanddate.com, and it will rise that day at 8:29 p.m. local time. The lunar eclipse starts at 1:47 p.m. and ends at 5:05 p.m., so the moon will be below the horizon in North America and much of South America. 

That said, this subtle lunar eclipse will be entirely visible for observers in eastern Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia and Australia. It will start at moonrise for those on the eastern coast of South America, western Africa and Europe, and at moonset for sky watchers in Japan and New Zealand. The eclipse begins at 1:45 p.m. EDT (1745) and lasts until 5:04 p.m. EDT (2104 GMT), or about three hours and 18 minutes. 

Related: How lunar eclipses work (infographic) 

A penumbral eclipse occurs when the moon enters the outer portion of the Earth's shadow, known as the penumbra. The moon doesn't get dark in the way it does during a total lunar eclipse, also known as a "blood moon," where it enters the umbra, the inner part of the shadow. Instead, the moon appears just slightly darker; some people say it looks a little more "brown" than usual. In this case the moon will be partially covered by the penumbra, so the darkening may not be that noticeable as the brightness of the uncovered portion of the moon washes it out.

At the western end of the zone where it is visible, for example in Sao Paolo, Brazil, the moon rises at 5:31 p.m. local time and the eclipse is already underway, ending at 6:04 p.m. As one moves east more of the eclipse is visible; in Rome the moon rises at 8:30 p.m. and maximum eclipse is at 9:24 p.m. The moon will be close to the horizon still, only about 7 degrees in altitude. The eclipse ends at 11:04 p.m. local time. 

This sky map shows the penumbral lunar eclipse of June 5, 2020, over Sao Paolo, Brazil, at 6:30 p.m. local time. The moon will be in the constellation Ophiuchus, to the left of the Scorpius constellation. At this time, the Earth's penumbral shadow will be moving off of the moon's upper limb. (Image credit: SkySafari app)

More southerly observers will see the moon get higher; in Cape Town, the moon rises June 5 at 5:38 p.m. and the eclipse starts at 7:45 p.m., with maximum eclipse occurring at 9:24 p.m., the same time as in Rome. But the moon will be much higher in the sky by that point, a full 43.5 degrees above the horizon. The eclipse ends at 11:04 p.m. local time. 

Time table for the penumbral lunar eclipse of June 5, 2020
Penumbral eclipse begins 1:45:50 p.m. EDT (17:45:50 GMT)
Maximum eclipse 3:25:02 p.m. EDT (19:25:02 GMT)
Penumbral eclipse ends 5:04:03 p.m. EDT (21:04:03 GMT)

At the moment of greatest eclipse, on June 5, 2020 at 3:25:02 p.m. EDT (19:25:02 GMT), about half of the moon's surface will be in Earth's penumbral shadow, causing that half of the moon to appear slightly darker than usual. This map also shows the moon's path through Earth's shadow (with times given in GMT); the larger circle represents the penumbra, while the smaller circle represents the darker, inner shadow called the umbra. (Image credit: SkySafari app)

The full moon occurs when the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun. Earthbound observers see the moon's Earth-facing side reflect bright sunlight, unless its orbit carries it within the Earth's shadow — causing a lunar eclipse. 

Through binoculars or a small telescope the full moon appears so bright that the glare can even require special filters. There is no danger to one's eyes, but details can be harder to see than when the moon is a crescent or during quarter phases ("half" moons). This is because there are few visible shadows in the central part of the lunar disk from the point of view of an observer there the sun is directly overhead. Moon filters are available that can make some features stand out, or one can simply wait a few days after the full moon or observe a few days before, when shadows make spotting the surface features easier. 

Visible planets, stars and constellations

(Image credit: Starry Night)

On June 4, the almost-full moon will rise in the east and be joined by Mercury, which will be at its greatest eastern elongation, meaning it is as far from the sun as it gets along the ecliptic, the line of the Earth's orbit projected onto the sky. This means the planet, usually elusive, is easier to see

In New York the planet sets at 10:14 p.m. local time and is at an altitude of 19 degrees at sunset, which is at 8:24 p.m. in New York. It should become visible about 15 minutes after the sun gets below the horizon, shining at magnitude 0.4, about as bright as Vega, the brightest star in the Lyra constellation and the fifth-brightest star in the night sky. Catching Mercury can be hard because it is often in the part of the sky that is still a bit light; allow your eyes to adjust (one challenge is to see how soon after sunset you can first catch it). 

This sky map shows Jupiter and Saturn near the moon shortly after midnight on June 9, 2020. (Image credit: SkySafari app)

After the full moon, on Monday (June 8), the moon will get close to Jupiter and Saturn. The moon will pass 2 degrees south of Jupiter at 1:21 p.m. EDT (1721 GMT). Jupiter rises at 10:54 p.m. in New York City, and the planet will be about 15 degrees above the horizon by 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday (June 9), according to Heavens-above.com calculations. 

About nine hours after its encounter with Jupiter, the moon will pass about 2 degrees south of Saturn at 10:12 p.m. EDT (0212 GMT on June 9). The ringed planet rises in New York on June 8 at 11:47 p.m., after the moment of conjunction. By about 12:30 a.m. on June 9 the trio will be about 12 degrees above the southeastern horizon in the constellation Capricornus

When observing the planets and the moon at about 12:30 a.m. on June 9, one will see the almost-full moon with Saturn directly above and Jupiter above and to the right. All three will stay visible until sunrise. One interesting effect will be the movement of the moon relative to the planets; the moon moves relatively quickly against the background stars — approximately one lunar diameter per hour. By 4 a.m. local time, the moon will be visibly farther to the left of Saturn as opposed to directly below. 

At the time of the full moon, the summer constellations will be in full view all night, but the moon's brightness will wash out most fainter stars. 

The Summer Triangle — which consists of the stars Deneb, Altair and Vega — will be approaching the zenith in the eastern sky around midnight, and Antares, the brightest star in the Scorpius constellation, will also be reaching its highest point in the sky. 

How the Strawberry Moon got its name

The full Strawberry Moon rises over Manhattan in this photo taken by John Entwistle on June 9, 2017. (Image credit: John Entwistle)

The term "Strawberry Moon" for the full moon of June comes from the berries that appear in North America around that time of year (though modern varieties are available at other times as well). 

According to the Ontario Native Literacy Coalition, the Ojibwe treated the Strawberry Moon (Ode'miiin Giizis) as a time for annual feasts and welcoming people home. By contrast the Cree called it Opiniyawiwipisim, the Egg Laying Moon, as it was when birds and waterfowl started laying eggs. In the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, June 8 will fall during the fourth lunar month, called Locust Tree Month, or Huáiyuè

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo or video that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

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