June brings with it a new astronomical treat and marks the start of another eclipse season for 2020. This month’s Strawberry Moon, or penumbral lunar eclipse, can be viewed on Saturday, 6 June which might make the upcoming long weekend exciting (or not, but more on that later).
How many types of Lunar eclipses are there?
Before jumping into what a Strawberry Moon is and how you can see it in Australia, here’s what you need to know about the three types of lunar eclipses: total, partial and penumbral.
During a penumbral lunar eclipse, the moon only just brushes with the Earth’s outer shadow (penumbra) which is why it can sometimes go unnoticed. This is what you have the chance to see on Saturday.
A partial eclipse will see the moon enter the penumbra and then part of the Earth’s primary shadow (umbra). However, the shadow won’t fully cover the moon.
During a total lunar eclipse, the moon will first move in to the penumbra and then pass right in to the umbra. At this point, the full moon will darken to quite an extent and also dramatically redden.
What is Strawberry Moon eclipse and why is it called that?
If only the name implied we’d see something as exciting as a literal strawberry shape forming across the moon. Sadly not though. The name came about following a short season for harvesting strawberries in the north-eastern part of the US. You’ll also hear it referred to as the Mead Moon, Honey Moon, Rose Moon and Hot Moon.
Because what we’re going to see on 6 June is a penumbral lunar eclipse, your eyes will only just be able to see a slight dip of shade if you’re lucky. This is why it may not be worth waking up or staying up for if you’ve had a late Friday night.
When can I see the Strawberry Moon Eclipse in Australia?
You’ll be able to see the Strawberry Moon Eclipse in Australia starting Saturday, 6 June at 3.45am (AEST). It will reach its peak at 5.24am (AEST). Even if you can’t make out the slight darkening of the moon, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the brightness of the full moon with a hot cup of tea, coffee or cocoa if you’re in the mood.
How can I photograph the Strawberry Moon?
Though subtle, you’ll be able to see the difference in the moon before and after the eclipse if you photograph both moments.
All you need is a tripod-mounted DSLR with a minimum 200mm focal length lens. Alternatively, you can use your smartphone camera and place it to the eyepiece of a telescope.