From meteor showers to solar eclipses, 2021 has been full of treats and excitement for stargazers. But this month marks the final supermoon of the year.
According to NASA, the term “supermoon” was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979. It refers to when the moon comes closest to the earth in its elliptical orbit. The result is a slightly larger-than-normal view of the moon’s surface. However, there is no exact scientific definition for the phenomenon.
The number of supermoons that occur per year depend on how one interprets its definition, NASA says. A typical year will see two to four consecutive full moons and two to four consecutive supermoons.
“For 2021, some publications consider the four full Moons from March to June, some the three full Moons from April to June, and some only the two full Moons in April and May as supermoons,” NASA’s Gordon Johnston wrote in a blog post.
How to View the Strawberry Moon
The final supermoon of the year is scheduled to be revealed on June 24 at 2:48 p.m. EST. Unfortunately, that means it won’t be visible in North America, but its glow should still be visible into the night. It will appear for approximately three days thereafter.
For stargazers who want to view the phenomenon, there is a virtual telescope that can be used to see the supermoon wherever it appears. The Virtual Telescope Project will also be live-streaming the event on their YouTube channel starting at 2:40 p.m. EST.
Over time, different cultures have given special meanings to the phases of the moon. As a result, each phase of the moon received a different name.
For example, January’s full moon is known as the “Wolf Moon” after “the howling of hungry wolves lamenting the scarcity of food in midwinter,” according to the Royal Museums of Greenwich.
June’s supermoon is known as the “strawberry” supermoon. It reportedly earned its name because that’s when many Native American tribes would begin to harvest strawberries. European cultures know it as the “Rose Moon” or the “Honey Moon.” Other cultures call it the “Hot Moon” because of the incoming summer swelter.
Most outdoorsfolk are familiar with “Hunters Moon” which occurs in October. It earned its name because it is a prime time to hunt summer-fattened deer and fox. The bright moon shadow also gives hunters the ability to stalk their prey at night.