Strawberry Moon to shine bright in Sunday morning's sky

The Strawberry Moon will be visible on the night of June 3 and has ancient connections to Native American agriculture.

 The moon appears red in the sky. (photo credit: PXFUEL)
The moon appears red in the sky.
(photo credit: PXFUEL)

The last full moon of Spring and the first of Summer is called the Strawberry Moon and will be visible this year early on Sunday morning.

The nickname "strawberry" for this full Moon comes not from its color as you might expect but from its coinciding with the ripening of strawberries in North America. The specific strawberry in question is the Virginia strawberry which grows naturally across the United States and Canada, these are different than European strawberries.

The Old Farmer's Almanac, which contains information about weather, planting, astronomical information, and even folklore, claims that the name is one of the nicknames the Native American Algonquin tribes used for this full Moon. It also reports that other groups used the name such as the Ojibwe, Dakota, and Lakota peoples.

Even though the origin of the name Strawberry Moon is unrelated to the Moon's color, the Moon will still be a reddish color as it rises on Saturday, June 3, and sets on Sunday, June 4. This is due to how light shines through the atmosphere. The Moon will appear reddish for the same reasons that sunsets do. However, what makes this Moon more likely to be red is that due to the summer solstice, the Moon will stay low in the sky for most of the night allowing the effect to last through more of the night.

The Moon will be at its fullest on June 4 at 6:41 a.m. Tel Aviv time. Several other astronomical sights will be visible including both Venus and Mars earlier in the night and Jupiter will also be visible although much later in the night closer to sunrise.

Strawberry picking at Darom Adom (credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
Strawberry picking at Darom Adom (credit: MEITAL SHARABI)

Deeper origins 

Other cultures used similar but different names such as the Haida who call it Berries Ripen Moon, reflecting the blooming of flowers and the ripening of fruits which made June a time of abundance for many people. 

Some Native American groups give it a less specific name, the Anishinaabe call it the Blooming Moon, while the Cherokee call it the Green Corn Moon, or even the Hoer Moon by the Abenaki reflecting the need to tend to crops. Some names even refer to it as the Birth Moon (Tlingit) and the Cree call it the Egg Laying Moon and Hatching Moon due to the increase in animal births.

Europeans also have a special name for this full Moon - the Honey Moon or Mead Moon. Europeans called the first full Moon of June the Honey or Mead Moon due to the belief that the honey should be harvested at this time, mead is an alcoholic drink made from honey sometimes called honey wine.

June was also traditionally the month of marriage, even being named after the Roman Goddess of marriage Juno, this is believed to be the origin of the term "honeymoon". Although the practice of newlyweds taking a vacation after marriage originates in the 18th century, it was already called a honeymoon by that point, indicating the term was older than the tradition.