The Reason for June’s Rosey Moon
It’s a matter of angles
June’s full Honey, Mead or Rose Moon falls around midnight Thursday.
All full moons stand opposite the sun. This time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is at its highest. Conversely, the full moon never climbs more than 20 degrees above the southern horizon. As a result, the moonlight that reaches our eyes cuts through a much thicker swath of earth’s atmosphere than winter’s high moon directly overhead. As it passes through all those clouds — not to mention the seasonal haze and humidity — the moon takes on an orange, yellow or even red hue.
While the sun is still more than a week away from its highest point in our skies, it reaches its farthest point in our eastern sky June 14 with the year’s earliest sunrise at 5:42am. Because of earth’s elliptical orbit, the latest sunset is two weeks later on the 28th.
Sunset reveals Jupiter clinging to the west-northwest horizon for 90 minutes at most before setting. Mars is high in the southwest, trailed by the first-magnitude star Spica. About the same distance past Spica shines the ringed planet Saturn. If you’re up to greet the dawn, look low in the east for Venus, blazing against the horizon.
Look to the north in early evening for the Big Dipper standing upright on its handle. The four stars of the bowl and the three of the handle form the most familiar grouping of stars. This asterism is part of the constellation Ursa Major, the great bear. The two stars of the outer bowl always point to Polaris, the North Star, in the Little Dipper.