A 'Strawberry moon' eclipse is happening on Friday. Here's how to watch it from home

On Friday, the moon will pass through the Earth's outer shadow, known as the penumbra.

Strawberry Moon

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: A full moon rises behind Glastonbury Tor as people gather to celebrate the summer solstice on June 20, 2016 in Somerset, England.

Matt Cardy / Getty
  • Two lunar events will occur on Friday: a full moon and a penumbral eclipse.
  • A penumbral eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the Earth's outer shadow, causing the moon to appear slightly darker.
  • The eclipse will only be visible to some countries, but the Virtual Telescope Project is providing a livestream.

The first full moon of June — known as the Strawberry moon — will rise on Friday, June 5. This year, the Strawberry moon coincides with another lunar event: a penumbral lunar eclipse.

What will the moon look like Friday? No matter where you live, it will appear unusually low in the sky. That's because the Strawberry moon occurs closest in time to the summer solstice (June 20), which is when the sun is highest in the sky.

The Strawberry moon may also appear unusually big. But that'd only be because of the moon illusion, which describes how the mind perceives the moon to be bigger the closer it appears to the horizon. This illusion can make constellations appear unrealistically large, too.

The penumbral eclipse may cause actual changes to the moon's appearance. A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into Earth's outer shadow, known as the penumbra. (Earth's inner shadow is called the umbra, and total lunar eclipses occur when the moon passes through both the penumbra and umbra.)

When a penumbral eclipse occurs, the moon may appear slightly darker than normal. But this year's eclipse will only be visible from "parts of Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America," the Farmer's Almanac reports. For people in North America, the moon will be below the horizon when the eclipse occurs.

Phases of the Moon

NASA

But the moon won't appear red or pink from any vantage point — the name "Strawberry Moon" is a Native American reference to strawberry harvest season. Other names for June's full moon include the Flower Moon, Rose moon, Planting moon, and Mead moon.

​How to watch the Strawberry moon and penumbral eclipse

The eclipse will start at about 1:45 P.M. E.T. on Friday. It will last for about three hours, but the best time to view the moon will be around 3:25 P.M. E.T., according to timeanddate.com. If you can't view it in person, check out The Virtual Telescope Project's livestream.

The next time a full moon coincides with a penumbral eclipse will be July 4. The first full moon of July is often called the Buck moon, and next month the full-moon eclipse will be visible from North America, though it'll be faint.

This is what aliens would 'hear' if they flew by Earth

A Mercury-bound spacecraft's noisy flyby of our home planet.

Image source: sdecoret on Shutterstock/ESA/Big Think
Surprising Science
  • There is no sound in space, but if there was, this is what it might sound like passing by Earth.
  • A spacecraft bound for Mercury recorded data while swinging around our planet, and that data was converted into sound.
  • Yes, in space no one can hear you scream, but this is still some chill stuff.

First off, let's be clear what we mean by "hear" here. (Here, here!)

Sound, as we know it, requires air. What our ears capture is actually oscillating waves of fluctuating air pressure. Cilia, fibers in our ears, respond to these fluctuations by firing off corresponding clusters of tones at different pitches to our brains. This is what we perceive as sound.

All of which is to say, sound requires air, and space is notoriously void of that. So, in terms of human-perceivable sound, it's silent out there. Nonetheless, there can be cyclical events in space — such as oscillating values in streams of captured data — that can be mapped to pitches, and thus made audible.

BepiColombo

Image source: European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's BepiColombo spacecraft took off from Kourou, French Guyana on October 20, 2019, on its way to Mercury. To reduce its speed for the proper trajectory to Mercury, BepiColombo executed a "gravity-assist flyby," slinging itself around the Earth before leaving home. Over the course of its 34-minute flyby, its two data recorders captured five data sets that Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) enhanced and converted into sound waves.

Into and out of Earth's shadow

In April, BepiColombo began its closest approach to Earth, ranging from 256,393 kilometers (159,315 miles) to 129,488 kilometers (80,460 miles) away. The audio above starts as BepiColombo begins to sneak into the Earth's shadow facing away from the sun.

The data was captured by BepiColombo's Italian Spring Accelerometer (ISA) instrument. Says Carmelo Magnafico of the ISA team, "When the spacecraft enters the shadow and the force of the Sun disappears, we can hear a slight vibration. The solar panels, previously flexed by the Sun, then find a new balance. Upon exiting the shadow, we can hear the effect again."

In addition to making for some cool sounds, the phenomenon allowed the ISA team to confirm just how sensitive their instrument is. "This is an extraordinary situation," says Carmelo. "Since we started the cruise, we have only been in direct sunshine, so we did not have the possibility to check effectively whether our instrument is measuring the variations of the force of the sunlight."

When the craft arrives at Mercury, the ISA will be tasked with studying the planets gravity.

Magentosphere melody

The second clip is derived from data captured by BepiColombo's MPO-MAG magnetometer, AKA MERMAG, as the craft traveled through Earth's magnetosphere, the area surrounding the planet that's determined by the its magnetic field.

BepiColombo eventually entered the hellish mangentosheath, the region battered by cosmic plasma from the sun before the craft passed into the relatively peaceful magentopause that marks the transition between the magnetosphere and Earth's own magnetic field.

MERMAG will map Mercury's magnetosphere, as well as the magnetic state of the planet's interior. As a secondary objective, it will assess the interaction of the solar wind, Mercury's magnetic field, and the planet, analyzing the dynamics of the magnetosphere and its interaction with Mercury.

Recording session over, BepiColombo is now slipping through space silently with its arrival at Mercury planned for 2025.

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