Sky watchers will get a double treat during the next two weeks, with a big, bright June “supermoon” on the way and a parade of planets that will be visible to the naked eye in the early morning hours.
The June supermoon, also nicknamed the “strawberry moon,” will reach its fullest phase at 7:51 am Eastern time on Tuesday, June 14 – the first of two consecutive supermoons coming in 2022 and the biggest full moon of the year, according to Forbes.com.
Experts say the planetary parade is already visible each morning around dawn, with five planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn – lined up close together in the sky, but the planets will become easier to see on June 24.
CBS News described the big alignment as rare, saying it’s the first time since December 2004 that the five planets will all be visible at the same time from our planet.
Astronomy experts from Sky & Telescope magazine say “it is common to see a conjunction of three planets close together,” but rare to see five and also rare for each of those planets to be “lining up in their natural order from the sun,” CBS noted.
How to see the parade of planets
Sky & Telescope offers these tips for viewing the five planets that will be lined up in the morning sky in June 2022:
- Even though you can see these planets with your naked eye – which is why they are known as “naked eye planets” – it’s a good idea to find a pair of binoculars for a better viewing opportunity.
- Try to find a location with a clear view low toward the eastern horizon to maximize your chances of seeing Mercury, the planet that will be lowest in the sky.
- On the best viewing day, June 24, aim for 45 minutes before sunrise for the best shot of seeing all five planets. “You’ll have less than half an hour between when Mercury first appears above the horizon and when it essentially gets lost in the glare of the rising sun,” the magazine notes.
The most popular nickname of the June full moon “comes from the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries in northeastern North America,” NASA says, noting this nickname has been used by virtually every Algonquin tribe in the United States.
Just like other monthly moon nicknames, the June full moon has a few monikers aside from the strawberry moon. In Europe, some people call it the “rose moon” because of the roses that bloom in late June, and some cultures call it the “hot moon” because it usually arrives when the summer heat starts ramping up.
Other people, according to HLNtv.com, refer to the June full moon as the “honey moon” or the “mead moon,” not because June is a popular month for weddings but because its position is low in the sky (in our hemisphere at least) and the earth’s atmosphere can give it a warm tint. ”
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Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.