How to see tonight's Strawberry Moon, and the meaning behind the June 2020 full moon

(Photo: Shutterstock)(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Tonight (5 June) will see a so-called ‘Strawberry Moon’ rising over the skies of the UK.

In previous months, we've witnessed Snow Moons, Wolf Moons and even a Pink Moon.

Now another dazzling bright full moon is in store, but what is the Strawberry Moon and how can you see it? And how can you see the penumbral lunar eclipse?

Here's everything you need to know:

What is the Strawberry Moon?

Despite its name, the moon won’t be turning a hue of strawberry red, and the ‘Strawberry Moon’ tag is simply applied to the full Moon in June or the last full Moon of Spring.

That’s because in recent years, traditional Native American names for the full moons have become more common in modern day parlance.

According to the Maine Farmer's Almanac - which first published the Native American names for the full Moons in the 1930's - the name comes from the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries in northeastern North America.

The same full moon went under many other traditional names in other parts of the world, and one old European name for June's was the ‘Honey Moon’; it's believed that this is where the term 'honeymoon' may have come from.

The marital phrase dates back to at least the 1500's, and it's thought it sprang up due to the custom of marrying in June, and the fact the Honey Moon will have been in the sky around the time of a lot of nuptials.

Will the moon be red?

(Photo: Shutterstock)(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

The traditional Native American name for June's full moon suggests it may be turning a shade of red, but surely that's not the case?

At higher latitudes, though the moon won't be as colourful as ripe strawberry, it may actually change colour slightly – though the UK is far too south to see this effect.

The Moon orbits around the Earth on almost the exact same plane as the Earth orbits around the Sun.

That means that when the Sun appears highest in the sky near the summer solstice in June, the full Moon opposite our nearest star is generally at its lowest in the sky.

At Europe's higher latitudes, this means the full Moon shines through more atmosphere than at other times of the year, which can sometimes give it a reddish tint; it's the same science that makes sunsets and sunrises appear a deep shade of red.

When can I see it?

(Photo: Shutterstock)(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

The full moon will be in the night sky tonight, the evening of Friday 5 June.

While the moon will technically be at its fullest at around 8.10pm on that day, it won't be visible in the sky until it rises at 9pm.

It won’t set again until about 5.15am the next morning, meaning it will be visible in all its glory throughout the night – clear skies permitting of course.

What is a penumbral lunar eclipse?

Tonight’s full moon also ties in with a penumbral lunar eclipse.

During a penumbral lunar eclipse, the moon passes through the edges of the 'shadow' that our planet casts into space, in which a portion - but not all - of the Sun's light is obscured.

That's not to say the eclipse will be particularly noticeable at any point throughout the evening.

Don't go looking to the heavens with expectations that are too high; there will be no red glow like you might see with a total lunar eclipse.

During a penumbral eclipse, the moon simply dims as it passes through the Earth's penumbral shadow.

When is the eclipse?

Unfortunately, the UK will miss out on the majority of tonight’s eclipse.

It will begin around 6.45pm, and will take place ‘below’ the horizon from the perspective. But since the event will last for around three hours from start to finishm the country may catch the tail end of it after 9pm.

People in Asia, Australia and Africa will have a better view of the whole event.

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