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06-21-2024

'Strawberry Moon' tonight is the sweetest of the year

The next full Moon will rise on Friday evening, June 21, 2024, reaching its peak illumination at 9:08 PM EDT. The Strawberry Moon will appear full for about three days, from Thursday evening to Sunday morning.

The peak of this event will take place on Saturday from Greenland and Cape Verde time zones eastward across Eurasia, Africa, and Australia, with commercial calendars marking the full Moon on June 22. 

Strawberry Moon 

In the 1930s, the Maine Farmer’s Almanac popularized “Indian” names for full moons, which are now widely recognized. 

According to this Almanac, the June full moon is the Strawberry Moon, named after the short strawberry harvesting season in the northeastern United States. 

Other names found in various sources, though sometimes conflicting about their origins, include the Flower Moon, Hot Moon, Hoe Moon, and Planting Moon.

Honey Moon

An old European name for this full moon is the Mead or Honey Moon. Mead, a fermented honey drink, is sometimes called honey wine. 

The end of June traditionally marked the time for harvesting honey, leading to the “sweetest” moon of the year. 

The term “honeymoon” dates back to at least the 1500s in Europe. It possibly linked to this particular full moon due to the custom of marrying in June or because it is the “sweetest” moon. 

There is, however, insufficient evidence to support the 19th-century theory that the term originated from gifting newlyweds mead for their first month of marriage.

Another European name for this full moon is the Rose Moon. Some sources attribute this to the blooming of roses.

Summer solstice 

This weekend, the Strawberry Moon will peak the day after the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. 

The moon’s orbit around Earth aligns closely with Earth’s orbit around the sun. On the summer solstice, the sun is at its highest point, and the full moon, being opposite, is at its lowest.

For Washington, DC, the Strawberry Moon will be the lowest full moon of the year, reaching only 21.9 degrees above the southern horizon at 1:20 AM EDT.

Colorful Strawberry Moon 

According to Bob Bonadurer, director of the Milwaukee Public Museum’s planetarium, the Strawberry Moon is the most colorful of the year because it takes a low, shallow path across the sky. Despite its name, however, it does not usually look pink or red. 

Instead, the June full moon may appear to have an orange or yellow glow due to the low arc of the moon across the sky, which means moonlight will travel through more of Earth’s atmosphere. This atmospheric scattering of light is similar to what happens during sunrises and sunsets. 

Cultural significance of the Strawberry Moon 

For Hindus, this full moon is Vat Purnima, a time when married women show love for their husbands by tying a ceremonial thread around a banyan tree, based on the legend of Savitri and Satyavan. 

For Buddhists, particularly in Sri Lanka, this full moon is Poson Poya, marking the introduction of Buddhism in 236 BCE.

Another unique name for this full moon comes from a diverse tribe devoted to lunar studies, now scattered but originally from the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. 

This tribe, speaking primarily English with scientific and engineering terms and Hawaiian phrases, calls it the LRO Moon. This name honors NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched on June 18, 2009, which continues to provide valuable data about the moon.

Lunar and lunisolar calendars typically begin months with the new moon, placing the full moon in the middle. This full moon falls in the fifth month of the Chinese year of the Dragon, Sivan in the Hebrew calendar, and Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar, a sacred month prohibiting fighting.

As is customary, the wearing of celebratory celestial attire is encouraged to honor the full moon. Enjoy strawberries, flowers, and honey during this “sweetest” month of the year, and observe the notably low position of this full moon in the sky.

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