As far as produce goes, there's not much that's more summery than a strawberry. For me, strawberries evoke memories of eating messy strawberry shortcake at local fairs in my hometown and of berry-picking with my family right after school finished for the summer (yes, I know this sounds very idyllic, and I guess it kind of was). It recently came to my attention that the strawberry is associated with another summertime staple — the June full moon. Now that I'm aware of this connection (more on that later!), I have to wonder about the full moon itself and what time the June strawberry moon will rise in the sky. Clearly, I'm fully committed to this whole strawberry thing.
According to the Farmer's Almanac, June's full moon will rise smack dab between Wednesday, Jun. 27 and Thursday, Jun. 28. The 2018 strawberry moon will occur at 12:53 a.m. EST on Jun. 28. For those of you who struggle with the 12 a.m. versus 12 p.m. thing as much as I do — no shame! — this basically means that the full moon will be in the sky very late in the evening on Wednesday or very early in the morning on Thursday, depending on your perspective.
Like most of the nicknames we've assigned to full moons throughout the year (harvest moon, frost moon, etc.), the "strawberry moon" designation is rooted in centuries-old history. Per the Farmer's Almanac, this name was inspired by the Algonquin tribes, who grew to view the appearance of the June full moon as a sign that their wild strawberries would soon start to bloom. Colonial Americans were known to adopt many of these full moon nicknames from the native people in the areas where they settled, so it's likely that the phrase "strawberry moon" has been perpetuated by both groups in the ensuing decades. Time and Date cites several other nicknames for the June full moon that were used by Europeans, including the rose moon and the hot moon. Strawberry moon seems to have been the one that stuck, and I'm glad for that, because it happens to be the cutest.
We tend to take the full moon — strawberry or otherwise — for granted, but the astronomical process that takes place to make it happen is actually pretty interesting. According to Time and Date, the entire face of the moon is illuminated by the sun's rays once a month, creating an especially bright moon that often looks like it could light up the whole sky. Technically, the full moon lasts for just a moment — in the case of the June 2018 full moon, that moment happens at 12:53 a.m. EST exactly — when the sun and moon are aligned on opposite sides of Earth. Still, the moon often appears full to us for a full day or two before or after that moment. During this period, more than 98 percent of the moon is illuminated, so it's no wonder that we might assume that it's full.
All of this means that if you want to witness the official full moon, you'll have to find yourself awake and outside at 12:53 a.m. on the evening of Wednesday, Jun. 27... or maybe the morning of Thursday. Jun. 28. Wouldn't it be cool to see it at the exact moment that it's happening? I think this might be especially appealing to astronomy buffs. The rest of us can enjoy the appearance of a full moon on both Jun. 27 and Jun. 28. The almost-fully illuminated moon should make for a great Instagram picture or memory on either evening.