While this full moon’s ‘super’ status is contested, it is undoubtedly a sight worth seeing for fans of the night sky.
June 2021 has been an exciting month for lunar events. After a partial solar eclipse a few weeks ago, celestial fans are in for another treat with the ‘strawberry moon’ tomorrow (24 June).
Here’s all of the details needed to get the most from this astronomical sight.
What is this strawberry moon?
The strawberry moon is the name for the full moon in June. You may have seen some reports calling it the ‘super strawberry moon’ – a naming difference that boils down to an issue of classification.
Supermoons are classified by the proximity of the moon to the Earth in its orbit at that particular time. Typically, these appear about 15pc brighter as well as roughly 7pc bigger than average.
While many are reporting this week’s strawberry moon as the fourth and final supermoon of the year, others are stricter in their definition and say this one doesn’t quite qualify.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac, for example, defines a supermoon as being less than 360,000km from the Earth – with this moon being 361,558 km away.
Given that there aren’t many kilometres in the difference when compared to other supermoons this year, it is still a celestial event worth seeing, even if its title is contested.
Why is it called a strawberry moon?
The Old Farmer’s Almanac attributes the term ‘strawberry moon’ to the Algonquin, Ojibwe, Dakota and Lakota peoples, among others, who used it to mark the ripening of strawberries.
The name has nothing to do with the hue of the moon – it is unlikely to appear red or pink and will usually be closer to a golden tint. Gordon Johnston of NASA writes that higher latitudes in Europe are more likely to get a reddish display however, because there is more atmosphere to shine through when the moon is low.
The ‘honey moon’ and ‘mead moon’ are two alternative European names for the same event, connected both to summer weddings and the drinking that took place at them.
How can I see the strawberry moon?
While the moon is officially full at 7:39pm IST, your best bet might be to wait for the ‘moonrise’. This will occur at 10:15pm in Dublin, but you can find your own moonrise with this calculator.
Going to a coastal area with a clear view of the eastern horizon is good, or viewing it from a height can help get a nice perspective.
If that doesn’t suit, the Virtual Telescope Project will be streaming the event from 8pm IST.