June’s Strawberry Moon will be making its annual appearance in North America late tonight (June 27), marking the middle of the 2018 lunar calendar. But don’t expect to see a bright red berry in the night sky. The Strawberry Moon gets its name for a much more practical reason.
Dating back to Colonial America, the seventh full Moon gets its name from a Native American tribe called the Algonquin. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Algonquin were the first native people encountered by European settlers. They would name each Moon in order to track the seasons and the changes in landscape that came with it. Naturally, June’s full Moon was simply an indication that it was now the best time to pick strawberries.
"In places where strawberries aren’t native, this Moon was known as the ‘Rose Moon’ and the ‘Hot Moon,’” said Amy Nieskens from The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Other names include the Mead Moon and Honey Moon.
June’s Strawberry Moon has been known to take on a reddish tint, but only because of summer fires. At its full peak (just before midnight on the West Coast, or just after on the East Coast) the Moon will be so bright that it may be difficult to look at it for more than a few seconds. According to USA Today, the Moon will still be colorful because of its low, shallow path across the sky.
While you’re at it, Saturn will also be at its biggest and brightest on Wednesday night/Thursday morning (June 27/28), offering the closest view all year because the Sun and Moon are opposite each other, according to NASA. Unfortunately, the planet won’t get very high in the sky, but you will be able to spot its rings with high-powered binoculars or spotting scopes.
Keep the ‘nocs out for next month as well. A glowing red “Blood Moon” – named for the reddish tinge – will make its appearance in July, and will also be the longest lunar eclipse in a century.
As old folklore would have it, we’ll also see blue skies and sunshine in the days following the Strawberry Moon, according to Nieskens.