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What Is the Strawberry Moon and How to See It

Just a day after the summer solstice, this is your best chance for summer vibes beneath the moonlight.

By Cassidy Ward
Moon and Earth

Peacock’s comedy drama Wolf Like Me follows father and daughter duo Gary and Emma (Josh Gad and Ariel Donoghue) as they try to navigate life following the death of Emma’s mother. The two of them continually encounter Mary (Isla Fisher), an advice columnist who connects with Emma but has her own reasons for keeping her distance. See, Mary is a werewolf who loses complete control of herself at the full Moon.

For them, June’s upcoming full Moon, known as the Strawberry Moon, must be a nightmare waiting to happen. For the rest of us, it’s an opportunity to spend a little time looking up at the night sky. The Strawberry Moon will happen on June 21, 2024, at 9:08 p.m., though it will appear full for about three days, on the evenings before and after June 21.

For More on the Moon:
Remembering Apollo Astronaut William Anders and His Famous Earthrise Photo
A Lunar "Wall of Death": How Astronauts Could Keep Fit on the Moon
NASA Proposes Moon Standard Time with Slightly Shorter Seconds

Why Strawberry Moons (and All Full Moons) Happen

Look up at the Moon on any given night and you’ll see the same face. The Moon is a consistent and largely unchanging presence in the sky. It gets a little bigger or a little smaller from our point of view, because of its slightly elliptical orbit, but the only real change we can clock over time is how much of the Moon is illuminated. The Moon goes through regular phases which are highly predictable, that’s why you can buy a desk calendar which tells you the Moon phases years into the future, and it’s all because of the way the Moon moves (and the ways it doesn’t move) through the sky.

The Moon is tidally locked to the Earth so that one side always faces the planet. From our point of view, it appears as though the Moon doesn’t revolve around its own axis, but it does. It’s just that the revolution is in sync with its orbit, and that’s different from what we’re used to.

Moon Phases graphic

The Earth revolves its axis every approximately 24 hours and it orbits around the Sun roughly every 365 revolutions. There’s an easy distinction between a terrestrial day (a revolution) and a terrestrial year (an orbit). On the Moon, the day and the year are in sync, so that the Moon makes a revolution once every orbit. We can’t see the Moon turning but we can infer it by watching the lunar horizon.

Just like on Earth, you can measure the revolution by which part of the Moon is lit up by the Sun, or which phase it’s in. The Moon goes through a cycle roughly once a month which is defined by the completion of one lunar day. During the new Moon, all of the sunlight is on the far side so that the Earth-facing side of the Moon is in total darkness. During this time, the Moon rises and sets during the day, a faint shadow of its usual self across the daytime sky.

As it continues around its orbit the horizon creeps over the edge, and we see a waxing crescent. As the Sun swoops around the near side, the Moon goes through the first quarter and waxing gibbous phases on its way to the full Moon. From there, shadows creep in, creating a waning gibbous, third quarter, and waning crescent before the new Moon.

The June full Moon is called the Strawberry Moon because it coincided with the narrow window of strawberry harvest in North America, though many names exist among various cultures. The June full Moon is also known as the Birth Moon, Hatching Moon, Hot Moon, Blooming Moon, or simply the June full Moon, depending on who you ask.

On June 21, 2024, the Moon will rise at 8:52 p.m., just minutes before it reaches full illumination, and it will set at 4:39 a.m. This month, the full Moon also takes place just a day after the Summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Despite the summery vibes of the Strawberry Moon, this year it marks the first day in the long walk toward winter, but at least you’re not a werewolf.

Watch Wolf Like Me, streaming now on Peacock.

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