An interesting optical phenomena will be responsible for tonight’s lunar event: the Strawberry moon. The first full moon of the summer will take on a strawberry-like pink/red tint and will appear unusually large tonight. “When low on the horizon, the moon appears redder than what we can typically see,” said Michael Allen of Washington State University’s department of physics and astronomy. When low on the horizon, the moon will also appear a bit larger than usual, but that too is simply an optical illusion. “It’s a trick in our minds that makes the moon seem bigger than it really is. A low moon is no larger than a high moon,” Allen said.
According to NASA, the red/pink color the moon has is just part of the reason this moon is called the Strawberry Moon. The Maine Farmer’s Almanac first published Native American names for the full Moons in the 1930’s. According to this almanac, this full moon is referred to as the Strawberry Moon by most Algonquin indian tribes. The name comes from the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries in northeastern North America, of which now is prime strawberry season.
The Strawberry Moon won’t be the only thing dazzling star-gazers tonight; the planet Jupiter should also be visible. Saturn will appear just above tonight’s full moon. While Jupiter made its closest approach to Earth last week on June 10, it should be featured prominently in the sky as a bonus near the full moon.
The lunar scene will be visible after sunset, but the best time to view it will be at 4:30am in the eastern United States and around 1:30am in the western United States.