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How to see the unusually big and colourful 'Strawberry Moon' coming this week

How to see the unusually big and colourful 'Strawberry Moon' coming this week

It's kicking off this year's summer solstice.

If you thought the highlight of astronomical views was over for this year, you'd be sorely mistaken.

Whether you saw the total eclipse in April or the northern lights in the UK at the beginning of May, 2024 has already been a year of amazing sightings.

Before summer kicks off in 2024, we're expected to see this month's 'Strawberry Moon'. A day in which the moon will be at its fullest, on Friday 21 June - which is only two days away!

The Strawberry Moon is the sixth full moon of 2024 and will shine one day after the summer solstice.

Also known as the 'Hot Moon' and the 'Planting Moon,' it will be the latest to rise and the lowest-hanging full moon of the year in the northern hemisphere.

Chayanan / Getty
Chayanan / Getty

In the evenings leading up to the full moon, you might be able to spot a waxing gibbous moon that is 96% illuminated near Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius.

Antares is a red supergiant star, 12 times the sun's mass, and appears distinctly orangey-red through binoculars, earning it the name 'rival of Mars.'

Mark your calendars that our moon will be at its brightest and fullest at 9:08 pm (ET) on Friday and continue to beam through the weekend.

It will also appear nearly full tomorrow (Thursday), according to NASA.

The full moon's proximity to the summer solstice has a noticeable visual tint. One astronomer editor Bob Berman calls it the 'Moon Illusion.'

In June, particularly near the solstice, the sun is at its highest point of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It's also the farthest full moon from the sun of the year.

oversnap / Getty
oversnap / Getty

That's because the Earth's slightly elliptical orbit of the sun takes it to the furthest point away on July 5.

In North America, the ideal time to watch the full moon is on Friday when it rises in the east around sunset.

However, make sure to check the moonrise and moonset times for wherever you are - and find a place with a low, clear view of the eastern horizon.

If you're in the UK, the best time to check out the Strawberry Moon will be on Saturday 22nd June from 11.05pm BST.

The next full moon will be the 'Buck Moon' on Sunday 21 July later this year.

Do you know why it's called a solstice? Only a few do.

The word solstice comes from the Latin words 'sol' (sun) and 'sisto' (stop) because the points where the sun rises and sets don't change for a few days.

Featured Image Credit: Chayanan / oversnap / Getty