June’s “Super Strawberry Moon” will be the first full moon of summer, as it rises gently above the horizon tonight (June 24).
It will also be the last full moon of the year to rightfully claim the title of ‘supermoon’, as its proximity to Earth will make it bigger and brighter than usual.
Our guide below has all the details on when the delicate orb will reach full illumination in the UK skies this week, and how to take the perfect snap if the clouds dissipate enough to reveal the vista.
Plus, another fun list of alternative names for June’s full Moon given by Native Americans and Europeans, and a quick look into the enduring mystery of the Moon illusion.
CambridgeshireLive email updates: We bring the stories to you
Signing up to the CambridgeshireLive newsletter means you’ll receive our daily news email.
It couldn’t be simpler and it takes seconds – simply click here, enter your email address and follow the instructions.
You can also enter your address at the top of this page in the box below the picture on most desktop and mobile platforms.
Changed your mind? There’s an ‘unsubscribe’ button at the bottom of every newsletter we send out.
When is the Full Strawberry Moon in 2021?
The full Moon will peak in brightness on June 24 at 7.39 pm UK time.
Here’s the caveat, though: at that point, it won’t have yet risen above the UK horizon – not to mention, it’ll still be daytime then.
According to timeanddate.com, this won’t happen until 9.40 pm in Cambridge, not long after the sun sets at 9.24pm.
So, if you look southeast at that time, you will spot the glorious disk in the sky.
And if the weather decides not to cooperate on the day, don’t despair: either just before or after the 24th, the Moon will still appear huge and round to the naked eye.
Why is it called the ‘Strawberry Moon’?
It’s this time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere when flowers bloom and early fruit ripens – and Native Americans pointed out that, among others, strawberries are ripe and ready to be gathered around this time.
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, alternative names come from various Native American Tribes – and a couple have European origin:
- Blooming Moon (Anishinaabe) (Indicative of the flowering season)
- Green Corn Moon (Cherokee) and Hoer Moon (Western Abenaki) (Suggest that it’s time to tend to young crops)
- Birth Moon, Egg Laying Moon and Hatching Moon (Tlingit) (It’s the time when many animals have babies)
- Honey Moon (European) (The time around the end of June was when honey was ripe. ‘Honeymoon’ may actually be coming from this name!)
- Mead Moon (European) (Mead is a drink created by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains, or hops)
Why does the Moon appear bigger closer to the horizon?
Sometimes during moonrise, the Moon appears in gigantic proportions when near the horizon, only to become smaller and smaller as it climbs overhead.
This is not about supermoons – which happens when the Moon appears bigger and brighter because it happens to be closer to the Earth than usual.
This is the so-called Moon illusion, a mystery that is still puzzling humanity despite attempts to explain it since at least the fourth century B.C. The planet is not actually changing size, but for some reason, it appears to be expanding when low on the sky.
These are just some of the galaxy of explanations that attempted to give an answer.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle suggested the phenomenon could be due to atmospheric refraction, as did the Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy and the Greek astronomer Cleomedes – although the latter two also suggested a change in the moon’s apparent distance.
The refraction theory was subsequently proven incorrect.
Another ancient Greek astronomer, Cleomedes, described a theory based on apparent distance, which was further developed by the 11th-century Arab mathematician Ibn Al-Haytham.
The latter suggested that our brains perceive the distance of the Moon differently when it’s up in the sky than when it’s close to the horizon, where we have more depth perception.
This theory has since been tested by researchers over the centuries, and, despite its issues, remains popular today.
An alternative explanation is the angular size contrast theory, which suggests that the moon appears small overhead because it is surrounded by large objects – in particular the expanse of the sky.
How can I take a good photo?
The basics of photographing the Moon are the same whether you’re using a phone, compact camera, or SLR, explains this post from Royal Museums Greenwich.
Find out Moonrise and Moonset times, work out where in the sky you might want it to be, and choose a location that allows an unobstructed view and is away from buildings and other sources of light.
To take the perfect snap with your phone, you should make sure you are using the right settings for night-time photography.
- Turn your flash off.
- Set your ISO sensitively down.
- Setting your focus to 100 will also help.
- A night photography app will allow you greater control over the camera settings than your usual camera app.
- There are many apps (like the Moon Locator app – available on Android devices, free) to help you plan where you can see the moon in the night sky
We would love to see your photos of June’s Full Strawberry Moon this week. You can Tweet them to us at @Cambslive.