The last supermoon of 2021 -- the "strawberry" full moon -- will rise Thursday.
Viewers will see a large golden (sorry, not strawberry-colored) moon for two to three nights, according to EarthSky.
This supermoon becomes completely full at 2:40 p.m. ET on Thursday afternoon. It won't be fully visible in North America until later in the evening during "moonrise," when the sun sets and the moon ascends into view. But viewers all over the world can see the strawberry moon, depending on where they are in respect to the horizon.
Definitions of a supermoon can vary, but the term generally denotes a full moon that is brighter and closer to Earth and thus appears larger in the night sky.
"The term 'supermoon' is much more recent and has come to be any full or new moon within 90% of its closest approach to Earth," wrote Christine Shupla, education and public engagement manager at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, in an email. "By that definition, the full Moon on June 24 is also a supermoon, even though it is not as close as the full Moon was in May or April."
Some stick to a stricter definition of supermoon, like Noah Petro, a lunar scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. For him, the only real supermoon is the one closest full moon of the year, which was last month's "flower" moon. Still, he acknowledged that others use the definition Shupla provided.
"That there is no standard definition is a bother, but anything that gets people interested and excited about looking at and wanting to know more about the Moon is a great thing!!!" Petro wrote in an email.
The strawberry moon is the first of four full moons of the summer season. Its name, which originates from Indigenous peoples, refers to the ripening of strawberries and other fruits that occurs in late spring and early summer.
The Sioux, Chippewa and Ojibwe communities, for example, refer to the June full moon as the strawberry moon, according to the Western Washington University Planetarium website. Other groups have given it slightly different names that still give a nod to June's fruit-bearing season, such as the Creek term "kvco-hvsee," or "blackberry moon." The Haida call it "gáan kungáay," meaning "berries ripen moon."
Many tribes, however, have monikers for June's full moon that have nothing to do with fruit, including the Potawatomi tribe's "msheke'kesis," or "moon of the turtle" and the Tlingit's "at gadaxeet dis," or "birth moon."
The June full moon's European alternatives are "honey moon" or "mead moon," according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. This may be due to June's reputation for being the month of marriages, and could be where the use of the term "honeymoon" for post-wedding vacations originated.
Typical of a normal year, 2021 has 12 full moons. (There were 13 full moons last year, two of which were in October.)
Here are all of the full moons remaining this year and their names, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac:
- July 23 -- buck moon
- August 22 -- sturgeon moon
- September 20 -- harvest moon
- October 20 -- hunter's moon
- November 19 -- beaver moon
- December 18 -- cold moon
Be sure to check for the other names of these moons as well, attributed to their respective Native American tribes.
Here is what else you can look forward to in 2021.
The Delta Aquariids meteor shower is best seen from the southern tropics and will peak between July 28 and 29, when the moon is 74% full.
Interestingly, another meteor shower peaks on the same night -- the Alpha Capricornids. Although this is a much weaker shower, it has been known to produce some bright fireballs during its peak. It will be visible for everyone, regardless of which side of the equator you are on.
The Perseid meteor shower, the most popular of the year, will peak between August 11 and 12 in the Northern Hemisphere, when the moon is only 13% full.
Here is the meteor shower schedule for the rest of the year, according to EarthSky's meteor shower outlook.
- October 8: Draconids
- October 21: Orionids
- November 4 to 5: South Taurids
- November 11 to 12: North Taurids
- November 17: Leonids
- December 13 to 14: Geminids
- December 22: Ursids
Solar and lunar eclipses
This year, there will be one more eclipse of the sun and another eclipse of the moon, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.
November 19 will see a partial eclipse of the moon, and skywatchers in North America and Hawaii can view it between 1 a.m. ET and 7:06 a.m. ET.
And the year will end with a total eclipse of the sun on December 4. It won't be visible in North America, but those in the Falkland Islands, the southern tip of Africa, Antarctica and southeastern Australia will be able to spot it.
Skywatchers will have multiple opportunities to spot the planets in our sky during certain mornings and evenings throughout 2021, according to the Farmer's Almanac planetary guide.
It's possible to see most of these with the naked eye, with the exception of distant Neptune, but binoculars or a telescope will provide the best view.
Mercury will look like a bright star in the morning sky from June 27 to July 16 and October 18 to November 1. It will shine in the night sky from August 31 to September 21, and November 29 to December 31.
Venus, our closest neighbor in the solar system, will appear in the western sky at dusk in the evenings through December 31. It's the second-brightest object in our sky, after the moon.
Mars makes its reddish appearance in the morning sky between November 24 and December 31, and it will be visible in the evening sky through August 22.
Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, is the third-brightest object in our sky. It will be on display in the morning sky through August 19. Look for it in the evenings August 20 to December 31 -- but it will be at its brightest from August 8 to September 2.
Saturn's rings are only visible through a telescope, but the planet itself can still be seen with the naked eye in the mornings through August 1 and in the evenings from August 2 to December 31. It will be at its brightest during the first four days of August.
Binoculars or a telescope will help you spot the greenish glow of Uranus in the mornings through November 3 and in the evenings from November 4 to December 31. It will be at its brightest between August 28 and December 31.
And our most distant neighbor in the solar system, Neptune, will be visible through a telescope in the mornings through September 13 and during the evenings September 14 to December 31. It will be at its brightest between July 19 and November 8.
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