Stargazers listen up: tonight marks the beginning of the eclipse season.
What is being called a Strawberry Moon, also known as a penumbral lunar eclipse, is set to grace the skies in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Tonight marks the beginning of the eclipse season and first up we have a Strawberry Moon, where half of the moon’s surface will be in the Earth’s shadow.
Lunar eclipses take place when the shadow of the Earth blocks the light from the sun, and there are three types: total, partial, and penumbral. A penumbral eclipse means that the sun, Earth, and moon are imperfectly aligned, and subsequently, the Earth stops some of the Sun’s light from reaching the Moon, and the Moon is bathed in the Earth’s shadow. This creates a dark shading on the moon’s surface – also known as a penumbra. This time around, 57% of the moon will be covered by Earth’s penumbra.
The eclipse will last for just over three hours, starting at 3:45 am (AEST) in Sydney on Saturday, June 6, before reaching its peak at 5:24 am.
Solar and lunar eclipses always come as twins or triplets, so, for this reason, the Strawberry Moon starts off what we refer to as the “eclipse season”. The next two lunar eclipses can be seen on July 4 and November 29.
The name Strawberry Moon actually originates from farmers in the Northern Hemisphere who used the moon as a way of tracking planting and harvesting seasons. During the summer month of June, wild strawberries would start to ripen, and for this reason, this particular moon was also referred to as Rose Moon or Hot Moon.
Following tonight’s lunar eclipse, a total solar eclipse will occur on June 21, however it will only be visible in Northern Australia, Africa, and Asia. On December 14, another total solar eclipse will be visible in South Africa, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and Antarctica.