Strawberry Full Moon Rises over Redonda Peak
The full “Strawberry Moon” rises over Redonda Peak (3,767 m, 12,363 ft) in the Sangre de Cristo mountains north of Santa Fe and south of Taos. The last full moon of Spring, usually occurring in June, is named the “Strawberry Full Moon.” This is the name given to this full moon by Algonquin, Ojibwe, Dakota, and Lakota peoples, among others, to mark the ripening of strawberries that are ready to be gathered. This particular full moon, June 9, 2017, occurred when the moon was furthest in its orbit around the earth (apogee) and is referred to as a “mini-moon”, the opposite of a “supermoon” at perigee. This is a single, real, image (not a composite or “photoshopped”).
The Story Behind the Photo
If my calculations were done correctly I positioned myself to photograph the rising full moon of June 2017 directly over the summit of Redonda Peak. This full moon was the opposite of a “super-moon”. Instead, it was a “mini-moon”, meaning the moon was at its further distance, apogee, in its elliptical orbit around the earth. Read More
Even though this full moon was to be a “mini-moon“, it still looked bigger than life as it rose above Redonda Peak. This is due to the moon illusion effect.
Clouds can add drama to moonrise photographs, or they can screw things up. All it takes is a veil of thin clouds in front of the moon to scatter the moonlight, leaving a blur of bright light against the dark sky. A layer of clouds hovered over the mountain tops as the moon was rising. Initially, I thought the night would be a dud for photographing the moon. Luckily, though, as if someone was toying with me, the clouds separated in the area where the moon rose.
The bright Strawberry Full Moon lit the pinyon and juniper foothills in front of me. The warm yellow/orange color of the moon contrasted nicely against the indigo blue hues of twilight. Many people expected to see a strawberry-colored moon. Its name is based however on the time of year it rises and the ripening of strawberries. The warm colors of the moon are due to light scattering in the atmosphere.
How much smaller is a “mini-moon”?
The orbit of the moon around the earth is elliptical. When the moon is full and is closest to earth (perigee), it is a supermoon. When the full moon occurs at apogee, its furthest distance from earth, it is called a mini-moon. The perigee distance from earth is 362,600 km (225,309 miles), and the apogee distance is 405,400 km (251,093 miles). The difference in angular size of the moon at perigee and apogee as seen from earth is 12%.
The size of the full moon as seen from earth at perigee (“supermoon”) and at apogee (“mini-moon”) is shown here(1)http://www.fourmilab.ch/earthview/moon_ap_per.html.Read More
The moon orbits the earth every 27.322 days. It takes about the same time for the moon to rotate on its axis, 27 days. Gravitational forces between the earth and the moon result in torque on the moon resulting in its rotation period approaching its orbital period around the earth. This effect is known as tidal locking(2)https://www.universetoday.com/128350/will-earth-lock-moon/. Tidal locking is why we see the same side of the moon from the earth. The moon does not appear to be spinning. It appears to be stationary on its axis. The earth and moon are in synchronous rotation(3)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronous_orbit.
The Dark Side of the Moon
What about the far side of the moon? Pink Floyd’s famous album, “The Dark Side of the Moon“, hints to us that perhaps the side of the moon we do not see is “dark”. A better name for that side of the moon that we do not see is, “The Far Side of the Moon”. Since the moon rotates around its axis, even though it appears still to us, its entire surface receives almost the same amount of light from the sun.
The side of the moon facing the earth is brighter though due to light reflecting from the surface of the earth, known as earthshine. When the sun’s illumination of the earth as seen from the moon is full, a “Full Earth”, the amount of earthshine illuminating the surface of the moon facing the earth is about 34 times the amount of moonlight illuminating the earth during a full moon.
Earthshine is most clearly seen after dusk during the waxing crescent (in the western sky) and before dawn during the waning crescent (in the eastern sky).
When we take earthshine into account, the far side of the moon is actually the darker side of the moon.
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Strawberry Moonrise Over Redonda Peak