Attention, amateur astronomers: The moon will look unusually full and bright on Tuesday night, and you won’t need a high-tech telescope or fancy binoculars to admire it.
June’s full moon is commonly known as the strawberry moon, a name that comes from the Algonquin Native American tribe in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada and refers to the region’s strawberry harvesting season (not the moon’s actual hue).
And this June, it happens to be at its closest distance to Earth in its orbit, making it a supermoon by most standards.
“The common definition of a supermoon is any full Moon that is at a distance of at least 90% of perigee (which is the point at which the Moon is closest to Earth),” the Old Farmer’s Almanac explains. “June’s full Moon stands at 222,238.4 miles (357,658 km) away — comfortably within that cut-off point.”
NASA says a supermoon appears about 17% bigger and 30% brighter than the faintest moon of the year, when it’s farthest from Earth in its orbit. Supermoons are relatively rare, happening three to four times a year and always consecutively.
This one appears full from Sunday evening through Wednesday morning. Here’s what you need to know before viewing.
There’s an optimal viewing time depending on where you live
June’s supermoon officially takes place — meaning it will be fully illuminated by the sun — at 7:51 a.m. ET on Tuesday, though it will still look full the day before and after.
So why bother setting an alarm? As Forbes explains, you’ll get the best view during moonrise and moonset close to the time of the moon being at its “full” phase.
“Only on the night of the full Moon is it possible to see the Moon appear on the horizon during dusk,” it says.
In New York, for example, Tuesday’s sunset is at 8:28 p.m. ET and moonrise is at 9:16 p.m. ET. In Los Angeles, those times are 8:05 p.m. PT and 8:57 p.m. PT. You can find your local moonrise and moonset times here.
The moon will rise in the east after sunset, shine all night and set in the west close to sunrise.
It’s visible to the naked eye, but you could also use binoculars or a livestream
Notably, this week’s full moon is the lowest of the year, according to NASA, set to reach a peak of just 23.3 degrees above the southern horizon.
As long as skies are clear and nothing’s blocking your view, you should be able to see it without any equipment necessary.
“Full moons are a fun time to observe lunar features, as the rest of the sky will be washed out by the light,” says Space.com. “With the naked eye, you can see the vast highlands and lowlands of the moon, which can appear to be certain shapes and generate stories about those shapes, depending on the culture you follow.”
If you do have binoculars or a telescope, you’ll be able to see craters, mountains and other features of the moon’s surface. Full moons are good targets for beginners, it adds, “as you can’t miss it in the sky and is a relatively large object to practice automated tracking.”
You can also watch the full moon rise over Rome starting at 3:15 p.m. ET, thanks to a free livestream from the Virtual Telescope Project in Ceccano, Italy.
And don’t worry if you don’t get the perfect view this week — there are more supermoons on the horizon.
Depending on which definition you follow, Tuesday’s moon is the second of four consecutive supermoons that will be visible this summer in the Northern Hemisphere, with others to follow on July 13 and August 11.
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