This weekend we enjoy the Full Strawberry Moon! Looking up at the Night Sky

This weekend we enjoy the Full Strawberry Moon! Looking up at the Night Sky

~ St. Maarten’s Backyard Astronomy for June 2 - 4, 2023 ~

Sun rises at 5:35am

Sun sets at 6:44pm

Lunar phase: Full Moon

Moon sets at 4:51am

Moon rises at 6:41pm

This weekend we enjoy the Full Strawberry Moon! Named for the only fruit with its seeds on the outside! Strawberry Fields Forever, with a full moon hanging above, seems worth singing about to me!

The moon is officially full on Saturday night and you’ll want to catch a glimpse of what is known as the “moon illusion” as it rises over the Eastern horizon about 6:30pm. It is sure to be worth your time because the optical illusion of perspective can be breath-taking, in fact the first time someone sees how big the moon looks when it rises, they often stop in their tracks and give an awestruck “Wow!”

Here’s how it works: the moon’s apparent huge size is a true illusion, in the classic sense. It isn’t an effect of magnification in our atmosphere or some other trick of physics. It only looks big because it is near things that you are familiar with, such as trees, mountains or buildings. It is big compared to those things on land, because the moon is low, your field of view contains the moon and the landscape. When it is overhead you have nothing nearby to offer visual cues. Get this: the moon is the same size to your visual perspective, whether it is low and rising or high overhead, or anywhere else in our sky.

You can prove it for yourself by holding up your outstretched index finger next to the Moon. You’ll find that your finger tip and the Moon are about the same size. Do that this weekend at 6:45pm and then again at midnight. You will find the moon in both locations is basically the same size as that finger tip. Another method is to try looking at the Moon in both locations through a paper tube. This makes the comparable land features disappear, destroying the optical illusion.

There is currently a meteor shower known as the Arietids, it began last week and is peaking this weekend. Unfortunately, the full moon will likely wash out the visual meteor streaks, so you may not see them well. Best viewing, though, is before sunrise, look east in the direction of the constellation Aries.

Thank you for keeping up with the Night Sky articles, backyard astronomy designed for St. Maarten sky viewing. FYI: If you are out later on in the week, note that each star rises about four minutes earlier each day than written here, and the moon rises 50 minutes later. Night Sky is researched and compiled by Lisa Davis-Burnett. is a key resource for information and images. Questions or comments? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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