Strawberry moon: June’s full moon is known as the ‘Strawberry moon’, but did you know it will rise very close to Jupiter in the eastern night sky tonight?
You might have already spotted it last night when it was the most obvious. If you had clear sky, you surely noticed the bright yellow near-full moon rising in the east. If you paid closer attention, you were able to see a bright ‘star’ on the moon’s right side. This bright speck, which is actually the brightest object in the night sky now, is in fact the biggest planet of our solar system Jupiter. When two objects come close together in the sky, we call it conjunction. At the same time, Jupiter is around the closest point to Earth as it can be (it was actually on June 10th), and we call is opposition. The duo rose around 9pm LT (GMT+1) in the east. Because the moon wasn’t completely full (99,6% full to be accurate), the night sky was still very bright when it lifted off the horizon. However it climbed to about 10 degrees elevation when the sky turned pink, lit up by the Sun below the horizon then.
This picture was taken last night around 10pm from Gex, France, in the Jura mountains. It’s an incredibly simple composition but if you stare long enough, you can see quite a busy shot with many phenomena involved. The Sun is opposite to this view and had set for almost an hour then but the pink sunset reflected nicely on the tip of Mont Blanc (Europe’s highest peak culminating at 4810m of altitude). The closer foreground is plunged in the shadow of Earth. The softly illuminated pink clouds are in what we call the belt of Venus. It’s a phenomenon happening after sunset, where the pink/blue limit in the sky shows where the sunrays stop. At the same time, an aircraft was passing in the composition, which was pure luck! At the top of the picture, the yellow moon and Jupiter (right) are hanging in a tandem.
A bit later that night, you could really see Jupiter more clearly as it rose higher in the sky. If you had a telescope or binoculars, you would have been able to also discern some bright dots around the giant planet. It’s actually Jupiter’s own moons! Unfortunately the light necessary to get these objects in the same picture as the moon is so faint, that you will need to overexpose the moon. This shot is therefore a composite, showing a correct exposure on the moon, Jupiter and its Jovian moons. However it still shows the beautiful ballet of the multiple deep-sky objects one can observe within a few degrees!
June 17th: Strawberry moon
June’s full moon is called strawberry moon mostly in America because it coincides with the ripening and picking of strawberries. In Europe it is dubbed the rose moon. It’s also a good time to catch the nice orange color of the disc rising some time after sunset if you are at higher latitudes. Since sunsets are longer up north (this photo was taken in Denmark) and the nights are brighter in the summer, the landscape was still well visible. Here the moon rises over the rural landscape of Denmark made of farms, hills, fields, hedges and forest. The moon is the only striking element in the grey sky, which is why it was such a good subject to photograph then and there! Tonight it will rise around 9:30-10pm LT (GMT + 1). So watch your eastern skies around that time for nice show. Jupiter should rise before the moon but it will still be quite close to it!