This June full moon will be the smallest full moon of 2017. Like all June full moons, it’ll ride low in the sky from the Northern Hemisphere and high in the sky from the Southern Hemisphere. The full moon crests on June 9, 2017 at 13:10 UTC; translate to your timezone). The moon reaches apogee – its farthest point from Earth for this month – on June 8 at around 22 UTC. The nearness in time of the month’s farthest moon – and the month’s full moon – are what make this June full moon the smallest of the year.
You’re not likely to notice that this full moon appears smaller to the eye, although cameras can pick up the difference. If you’re observant, though, and a regular full-moon watcher, you might notice that this full moon appears fainter than average. If you’re in the Americas, try watching for the full moon before dawn on June 9. That’ll place it not only nearer to the time of full, but also nearer to the June 8 apogee. Does it look fainter than usual to you?
Skylore assigns names for every full moon. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the June full moon is called the Rose Moon, Flower Moon or Strawberry Moon. In the Southern Hemisphere, where winter is coming, this full moon is the Oak Moon, Cold Moon or Long Night’s Moon.
A full moon is always opposite the sun. That’s why it looks full to us. At full moon, the moon and sun are on a line, with Earth in between. It’s as though Earth is the fulcrum of a seesaw, and the moon and sun are sitting on either end of the seesaw. So as the sun sets in the west, the full moon rises. When the sun is below our feet at midnight, the full moon is highest in the sky. When the sun rises again at dawn, the full moon is setting.
The full moon opposite the sun is why this June full moon rides low from the Northern Hemisphere, and high for the Southern Hemisphere. Remember … the full moon is opposite the sun. And the solstice comes in June. For the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the summer solstice, so the sun is high and the moon – opposite the sun – is low. For the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the winter solstice, so that hemisphere has a low sun and high moon.
As the moon orbits Earth, it changes phase in an orderly way. Follow these links to understand the various phases of the moon.
Where’s the moon? Waxing crescent
Where’s the moon? First quarter
Where’s the moon? Waxing gibbous
What’s special about a full moon?
Where’s the moon? Waning gibbous
Where’s the moon? Last quarter
Where’s the moon? Waning crescent
Where’s the moon? New phase
Bottom line: A full moon looks full because it’s opposite Earth from the sun, showing us its fully lighted hemisphere or day side.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.