CHARLOTTE, NC — While we’ve already glimpsed this year’s two supermoons — both of them in January — the full moon in late June is a bit unusual, nicknamed the Full Strawberry Moon by Native Americans, because that’s when fruit begins to ripen and the strawberry harvesting season peaks. There’s no noticeable reddish tint to the moon; other names for this month’s full moon are the Rose Moon, Honey Moon and Hot Moon.
The full Strawberry Moon will be overnight on Wednesday and Thursday, June 27 and June 28. That’s because the full moon occurs at 12:53 a.m. EDT (0453 GMT), so depending on which time zone you live in, the full moon will be at its best late Wednesday or in the wee hours of Thursday. Space.com says the moon will appear full the day before and after its peak brightness, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the lunar sight, weather permitting.
The Strawberry Moon is at its fullest on Thursday, June 28, just a week after the summer solstice, when we had the longest amount of daylight we see all year. The latest sunsets of the year happen now through Thursday, July 5; sunset will be at 8:41 p.m. on June 28, and evening twilight will end at 9:11 p.m. in the Charlotte region.
Right before the Strawberry Moon peaks, the planet Saturn will be at opposition, or opposite the Sun as seen from the Earth, effectively a “full” Saturn that rises around sunset and sets around sunrise on Wednesday morning, June 27. This is when Saturn will be at its closest and brightest for the year, NASA says. With good binoculars or a small telescope, you should be able to see clearly the rings of Saturn and Saturn’s large moon Titan, that has an atmosphere and seas of liquid methane.
An early look at the skywatching forecast for Charlotte on June 27 and 28 looks a bit iffy for gazing at the moon. The National Weather Service predicts a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Wednesday night. Skies will be partly cloudy, with a low around 73. Thursday night will be better with partly cloudy skies, however there’s a 30 percent chance of rain on Friday night.
Here are 2018’s remaining full moons and supermoons:
July 27: Native Americans called the July full moon the Full Buck Moon because that’s when male deer begin to grow new antlers. This moon is also known as the Full Thunder Moon and the Full Hay Moon.
Aug. 26: Native American tribes called the August full moon the Full Sturgeon Moon because that’s when the large fish are more easily caught in the Great Lakes and other large lakes. You might also hear it referred to as the Green Corn Moon or the Grain Moon.
Sept. 25: The September full moon was known as the Corn Moon by Native American tribes because that’s when corn was typically harvested. It also has been called the Barley Moon to coincide with the time for harvesting and threshing ripened barley. In some years, it is known as the Harvest Moon — the name always given to the moon closest to the autumnal equinox — and it can occur in either September or October.
Oct. 24: The full moon in October was dubbed the Hunters Moon by Native Americans because game were fat and ready for hunting. It has also been called the Travel Moon, the Blood Moon and the Dying Moon.
Nov. 23: Native Americans called the November full moon the Full Beaver Moon because tribes set their beaver traps at that time before swamps and rivers froze over for the winter. You might also hear it referred to as the Frosty Moon.
Dec. 22: Native Americans called the December full moon the Full Cold Moon. Winter settles n in many areas of the country, and nights are longer and darker. You may also hear it referred to as the Long Nights Moon and the Moon Before Yule.
Other Celestial Events
You’ll have several chances to see Mercury in the second half of the year, the closest planet to the sun and the smallest in our solar system, just a little larger than Earth’s moon. It is the swiftest of the sun’s family, making its yearly journey in only 88 Earth days. Here’s a few things to watch for in the skies in the next month:
June 27: The ringed planet Saturn is at opposition and will be fully illuminated by the sun. This is the best time of the year to take a look at the second-largest planet in our solar system, as it will be brighter than at any other time of the year. You’ll be able to see it all night, and with a medium-sized or larger telescope, you can see its rings and a few of its brightest moons.
July 12: Here’s another chance to look at Mercury, which reaches its greatest eastern elongation at 26.4 degrees in the sky. You can see it low in the western sky just after sunset.
July 27: Mars is at opposition as it makes its closest approach to Earth. Its face will be fully illuminated, and you should be able to see some of the dark details on the planet’s surface with a medium-sized telescope.
July 28-29: The Delta Aquarids meteor shower, produced by debris left behind by the comets Marsden and Kracht, runs from July 12-Aug. 23. It’s an average show, producing about 20 meteors an hour at its peak, but a nearly full moon will be problematic. The meteors radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can be seen from any location in the sky. The best viewing times are after midnight.
Patch Editor Deb Belt contributed.
Photo of the Strawberry Moon via Shutterstock