CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — There will be a full moon tonight beginning on June 3, 2012 and continuing into the early morning on June 4th, 2012. According to Native American folklore, the full moon is called a Strawberry Moon because the short season for harvesting strawberries comes during the month of June.
At 6:00 am Eastern Daylight Time, just before sunrise on Monday, June 4th, 2012, the full Moon passes directly behind planet Earth. A broad stretch of lunar terrain around the southern crater Tycho will fall under the shadow of Earth, producing the first lunar eclipse of 2012. At maximum eclipse, around 7:04 am EDT, 37% of the full Moon’s surface will be in the dark.
Because only a fraction of the Strawberry Moon is shadowed, NASA scientists call this a partial eclipse.
The eclipse is visible in North and South America, Australia, eastern parts of Asia and all across the Pacific Ocean. On the Atlantic side of the United States, the eclipse occurs just as the Moon is setting in the west which NASA scientist Dr. Tony Phillips says is perfect timing for the Moon illusion.
For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, low-hanging full Moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects. In fact, a low full Moon is no wider than any other full Moon–cameras prove it–but the human brain insists otherwise.
The eclipsed full moon, hanging low in the west at daybreak on June 4th, will seem extra-large to Florida and other U.S. observers east of the Mississippi River.
The Sun-Earth-Moon alignment that causes this eclipse is the second of three rapid-fire celestial line-ups. First there was the annular solar eclipse of May 20th, when the Moon moved between Earth and the Sun to turn our star into a “ring of fire.” The lunar eclipse of June 4th reverses the order of the Earth and Moon, so that the full Moon is eclipsed instead of the Sun. Finally, we have the transit of Venus on June 5th and 6th, when the second planet moves directly between the Earth and Sun.
The June 4, 2012 Moon Set Time for Cocoa Beach, Florida is 6:29 a.m. while the Sunrise on June 4, 2012 is 6:25 a.m.
Video and information credit: Science@NASA.