• Caitlin Mary Parker Allen

Summer Astronomy Series: The Strawberry Supermoon of June 2022

All about this month's Strawberry Supermoon on the 14th of June!


A full supermoon glows high in a surreal cloudy sky, scattering light between tall dead trees in the New England Winter

Supermoon over Connecticut - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue


 

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If you find yourself in the Northern Hemisphere this summer, you’re in for an astronomical treat. The celestial calendar of 2022 is stacked with supermoons, with the summer months of June, July, and August boasting one such phenomenon apiece.


Supermoons occur when the moon is at the closest point of its 27 day orbit to Earth, and is in the full phase of the 29.5 day lunar cycle. This occasional combination makes the moon appear bigger and brighter to observers on the ground. The last time we saw three consecutive supermoons was 2016, over the Fall months.


The farther you are from civilization, the easier it’ll be to experience the supermoon without light pollution getting in the way. So pack up your camping gear and escape the artificial lightscape, because the first supermoon of summer is right around the corner on the night of June 14th!


Illuminated tents on the ground sit under the stars, as an incredibly bright moon rises behind a palm tree

The moon and stars over a campsite - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan



The Strawberry Supermoon we will be able to observe in June has long marked the weeks following Spring and heading into Summer, symbolizing prosperity and abundance for all. The name “Strawberry Moon” draws upon (you won’t guess this one) the ripening of strawberries.


According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, first printed in the 1700’s, the name was coined by the Lakota, Ojibwe, Dakota and Algonquin Native American peoples. This title is the most commonly used in North America today, but the Strawberry Moon has been called many different names by many different cultures over the years, including:


  • Honey Moon

  • Rose Moon

  • Hatching Moon

  • Green Corn Moon

  • Flower Moon


A brilliant starscape and the galactic cloud of the Milky Way looming over a lone tree

Starry Starry Night - Photo Credit: Andrew Zhu



Naming conventions for monthly full moons were historically used to track and celebrate the coming of seasons and natural phenomena, and these names have stood the test of time.


If you are spiritual, the Strawberry Moon has extensive symbolism rooted in folklore and astrology around which this full moon might have meaning for you:



According to NASA, a supermoon is defined by being approximately 226,000 miles from Earth, meaning it is in its 90% perigee. For those who do not work at NASA - like me - the perigee is the closest the moon comes to Earth within its orbit, with the apogee being the furthest point.


During a supermoon event, the proximity to Earth means the moon can appear up to 30% brighter and 14% larger than during regular full moon phases. Not to get confused with eclipses or planetary conjunctions where the moon can appear colorful or completely dark, the magic of a supermoon is in the bright light that it paints the landscape in.


The moon looms large over the Superstition Mountains just outside Phoenix, Arizona

Moon over Superstition Mountains: Apache Junction, AZ - Photo Credit: Ganapathy Kumar



So where in North America are the best places to observe this lunar event?


Depending on the specific landscape, such light can have a remarkable impact on the surroundings. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve will have growing and shifting shadows on June 14th. Nighttime visibility will be at its peak during supermoons and the stark, rocky terrain of Arches National Park will appear striking and ethereal.


Death Valley National Park also has some of the best conditions for moon, shooting star, and meteor shower observation in the country. We would recommend checking out the salt flats at Badwater Basin once the sun has gone down. The mountains that rise 360º around the entire valley block out any trace of nearby artificial illumination, creating a stunning visual experience as the moon rises over the horizon.


If shadows and otherworldly scenes sound too creepy (shoutout to my fellow solo campers) not to worry. There are a myriad of certified International Dark Sky Parks around the USA that will let you clearly observe the supermoon and other nighttime phenomena with minimal artificial light interference. (Check out where you can find a Dark Sky Park near you!)


The moon rises in the distance as the last faint light of sunset scatters across Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. A lone Joshua Tree looks on, approvingly

Moonrise over Joshua Tree National Park - Photo Credit: Scott Carnahan



These parks are ideal for the astronomy enthusiast because artificial lights from cities and urban centers lessen your ability to see distant, fainter light sources. While the remote deserts of the Southwest obviously present optimal light pollution circumstances, there are plenty of great places to view astrological phenomena throughout the country. Plan an overnight stay in one of these parks, such as Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania, to experience some of the best star and moon observation conditions on the planet. (Bonus points if you cowboy camp!)


The moon! Just the moon, looking rather moonly

For all my telescope and astrophotography enthusiasts, or if you simply want to verify if the moon is, in fact, made of cheese, a supermoon is the ideal time to look at the craters and mountains of the moon. This is both because it is closer than usual, and the ultra bright reflected sunlight washes out other faint sources of light which usually interfere.


So if you enjoy...


  • Breathtaking nocturnal scenes,

  • Romantic and adventurous lunar tidings

  • Getting together with friends to celebrate the coming of summer,


… and are based in North America, the moon will peak at 7:52am - but the best viewing will be just after sunset. So make sure you are looking Southeast on Tuesday, June 14th, 2022 to experience the Strawberry Supermoon!



Stay tuned for our upcoming blog updates to enjoy this three part Summer 2022 Supermoon series.


 

Find a dispersed campsite near National Park land. Learn a new camping recipe, or get tips to enhance your thruhiking. Be among the first to get exclusive stories, trail reports and more from our growing team of experienced campers, backpackers, thru hikers, and fellow adventure lovers.



 

Do you have any great night sky photography you'd like to share with us? Send a photo to blog@pathloom.com, or connect with us on Social Media for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post!

 

Check out these other articles by Pathloom which you may enjoy:

2022 Guide to Upcoming Planetary Conjunctions

Riley's Gap Year: Adventures in Skiing and Wildland Firefighting

Fires and Floating Trash

The Call of The Road

The Medicinal Value of Camping Alone

The Glory of Yosemite

Very Superstitious: Phoenix In The Fall


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