Strawberry Moon 2018 Will Come With Rare Saturn Views — Here's How to Watch
Much like its namesake, the event is a real treat.
Hot on the heels of the Summer Solstice, June’s waxing moon will reach its full lunar phase in the wee hours of June 28, kicking off a summer of celestial happenings. Stargazers are in for a treat since this full moon, known as the Strawberry Moon, also happens to arrive during Saturn opposition, meaning Saturn will be at its closest and brightest this year.
The spring season stood out for its array of celestial events, including the Lyrid and Eta Aquariid meteor showers. But this summer will offer rare opportunities for stargazers. Events such as Mars opposition in late July will bring the red planet closer to Earth than it has been in 15 years, giving anyone with a telescope the chance to see Mars’ unique features more closely than usual. The Strawberry Moon will be the season’s first celestial event visible to stargazers, and thanks to Saturn opposition occurring on the same night, it won’t disappoint.
June’s full moon gets its name because it was believed to kick off the strawberry-picking season on the east coast of the United States. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, Algonquin tribes first began calling it the Strawberry Moon to commemorate but also keep track of the changes in the landscape during the summer season. June’s full moon still peaks around the time wild strawberries are ripe for picking on the country’s east coast.
On June 27, Earth’s orbit will bring the planet in between Saturn and the sun, which will place Saturn opposite the sun in Earth’s sky and create a rare opportunity to observe the ringed planet throughout the night. Saturn will rise in the southeast sky around sunset, where it will be at its closest and brightest in 2018 before setting in the west around sunrise.
Stargazers can catch the Strawberry moon on the night of June 27 as well, reaching its full phase at 12:53 a.m. Eastern on June 28. Saturn will be at its highest in the sky around midnight, making it easy to observe alongside the moon.
While the Strawberry Moon will only hang around for one night, there will be opportunities to see Saturn and its bright opposition until September. For the two celestial events to share a set time is a rare treat for stargazers, but it’s just the first of many cosmic happenings slated for this summer.