Special moon a rare occurrence

STRAWBERRY MOON: Despite it’s name, the Strawberry Moon, seen recently, is not actually pink, but derives it’s name from the annual strawberry harvesting period in the north-eastern US.                                              Image: Cameron Kretschmann

If you’d looked skyward on Friday night, you may have noticed something strange happening with the moon.

Subtle though it was, we were able to witness a rare partial penumbral eclipse.

Adding to its rarity was its simultaneous occurrence with the annual Strawberry Moon.

“What on earth (or in the night sky) is a penumbral lunar eclipse?” you may be asking.

Britannica.com describes ‘penumbra’ as the outer part of a conical shadow, cast by a celestial body, where the Sun’s light is only partially blocked. It comes from the Latin word ‘paene’ meaning ‘almost’ and ‘umbra’ meaning ‘shadow’.

A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth and Moon are not in perfect alignment with each other. The Earth prevents some of the Sun’s light from reaching the Moon’s surface and some or all parts of the moon fall within the Earth’s shadow.

Last Friday’s Strawberry Moon, as named by the Algonquin Indian tribe, refers to the short strawberry harvesting period that occurs in the north-eastern United States around this time of year, and is not a reference to the moon’s colour.

More accurate descriptions can be found in the 15th Century European names, Mead Moon or Honey Moon.

It is believed this is from where the term ‘honeymoon’ is derived as it was once customary to marry in June as the “Honey Moon” was considered to be the “sweetest of the year.”

Most years have 12 full moons, each with different names. However, this year we have 13.

The next will be on 5 July and we can expect two in October when we will actually experience what is termed a ‘blue moon’ – a second full moon in one month.

Do you have any photographs of last Friday’s special Moon?

Send them to us as well as your your full name to goexpress@arena.africa with the subject line “Strawberry Moon.”




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