The full moon of June, also called the Strawberry Moon, will occur the morning of June 17 at 4:31 a.m. EDT (0831 GMT), just a day after making a close pass by Jupiter and a day before making another pass by Saturn. The moon will still appear full to casual observers tonight, weather permitting, so don't forget to look up!
Observers in New York City will see the full moon set at about 5:39 a.m. local time on June 17, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory, and it will rise again at 8:54 p.m. local time. The moon will be in the constellation Ophiuchus and will be framed by the planet Jupiter to its east and the bright star Antares (Alpha Scorpii) to the southeast.
The sun rises 15 minutes before moonset in New York on June 17, so for a few minutes the full moon and the sun will both be in the sky. A flat horizon to the east and west will allow observers to see this phenomenon from the midnorthern latitudes.
The full moon occurs when the moon is exactly on the opposite side of Earth from the sun. Earthbound observers see the moon reflect the sun's light, unless its orbit carries it within Earth's shadow – a lunar eclipse. The next lunar eclipse, in which the moon will be partially covered by Earth's shadow, will be July 16 and will be invisible from the Americas.
Through binoculars or a small telescope, the full moon appears so bright that the glare can require filters. While there is no danger to one's eyes, details can be harder to see than when the moon is a crescent or during quarter phases ("half" moons). The problem is shadows – a full moon means we are seeing the surface at noontime (if one were standing on the moon, the sun would be directly overhead). At noon, there are no shadows toward the center of the disk, and even toward the edges, few exist.
There are moon filters 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.
On June 16, the almost-full moon will pass by Jupiter; they will come within nearly 2 degrees of each other (about four lunar diameters), according to In-The-Sky.org. Both will be in Ophiuchus and visible in the southeastern sky after sunset, which is at 8:29 p.m. in New York City. It may take some time for the sky to darken enough to see Jupiter, but by 9 p.m. the two will be obvious, and the pair will reach its highest point in the sky at 12:29 a.m. on June 17, when they will be about 26 degrees above the horizon. Farther south, the two will be higher in the sky – observers in Miami will see them reach a height of 41 degrees, and in Sydney, their altitude will be as much as 78 degrees (this time above the northern horizon).
Mercury and Mars will appear very close together right after sunset on the night of the full moon. The planets will be in conjunction — meaning they share the same celestial longitude — the following morning (June 18) at 10:43 a.m. EDT (1443 GMT), according to In-The-Sky.org. Mercury is notoriously difficult to see, due to its close proximity to the sun in the sky. However, on the night of the full moon, the sun will set 1 hour and 44 minutes before Mercury for skywatchers in New York City. (You can find out exactly when the planets, the sun and the moon will rise from your location at timeanddate.com.)
After the full moon, on June 18, the moon will get as close as 26 arc minutes – less than one lunar diameter – to Saturn. The pair will rise together at about 9:45 p.m. local time in New York City, and they will be visible together all night. Both will be in the constellation Sagittarius, and Saturn will be just north of the moon.
At the time of the June 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 – an asterism consisting of the stars Deneb, Altair and Vega – will be approaching the zenith in the eastern sky toward midnight, and Antares, the brightest star in Scorpio, will also be reaching its highest point in the sky.
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, since it was when birds and waterfowl started laying eggs. In the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, June 17 will fall during the fifth lunar month, called Sweet Sedge Month, or Púyuè.
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