Sharp-eyed starwatchers and budding Kiwi astro-photographers are encouraged to treat themselves to a sweet sight tonight as the strawberry moon rises.
A strawberry moon is one of the more colourful moons seen during the year due to its low, shallow path across the sky.
Also known as the Mead Moon, Thunder Moon or Rose Moon, it is the name given to the full moon in June, the sixth of the year. It marks the start of the eclipse season.
Despite the name, the moon won't look like or resemble a strawberry or its colours. It is a penumbral lunar eclipse, which means the moon will pass through an outer part of the Earth's shadow, appearing to dim the lunar body's brightness.
The moon doesn't get dark in the way it does during a total lunar eclipse, also known as a ‘blood moon’, where it enters the umbra, the inner part of the shadow. Instead, the moon appears just slightly darker.
The term ‘Strawberry Moon’ for the full moon of June originates from North America, where native tribes associated the rising of the June Moon with the blossoming of wild berries that appear in North America around that time of year. Strawberries are native to North America, and before the 1600s Europe had never heard of the fruit.
Before strawberries were introduced to Europe, the June Full Moon was known as the Rose Moon due to the blossoming of roses.
For millennia, people across Europe, as well as Native American tribes, named the months after features they associated with the Northern Hemisphere seasons, and many of these names are very similar or identical.
It may appear pink when it is close to the horizon, however, as it is viewed through a much thicker layer of the earth's atmosphere.
The rare event takes place when the moon is at its closest orbit to earth, allowing a better view of its craters, basins and other features.
June’s full moon follows a succession of so-called ‘supermoons’, whereby the moon appears bigger and brighter in the sky. The full moon phase marks the exact moment the moon’s earth-facing side is totally illuminated by the sun.
Visibility is completely dependent on the weather forecast, and the full moon tonight may be obscured by cloud.
According to the MetService, showers and rain are forecast for the Bay of Plenty, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch over the weekend.
Another astronomical event to watch out for will be on June 12, when Mercury will rise to reach its highest point in the western sky.
Sam Lord, an astronomy guide from Dark Sky Project says over the next few nights Mercury will be visible just after sunset - again, if weather permits.
"It will look like a moderately bright star," says Sam. "Observers should look towards the direction of the sunset and Mercury will be about 12 degrees above the horizon, setting at around 6.30pm."
What are the full Moons of 2020?
Here are all of the 13 named Full Moons you should look out for this year:
January 11 - Full Wolf Moon
February 10 - Full Snow Moon
March 10 - Full Worm Moon
April 9 - Full Pink Moon
May 8 - Full Flower Moon
June 6 - Full Strawberry Moon
July 6 - Full Buck Moon
August 4 - Full Sturgeon Moon
September 3 - Full Corn Moon
October 2 - Full Hunter’s Moon
November 1 - Blue Moon
December 1 - Full Beaver’s Moon
December 31 - Full Cold Moon
Planning to take photos of tonight's Strawberry Moon? Please send them in to us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share them with all our readers.
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