Science of the Strawberry Moon

full moon rising behind chasseral during sunset photo by giles laurentScience of the Strawberry Moon

Strawberries emerge in May and ripen in June, giving their name to June’s Full Moon. This Strawberry Moon, which often coincides with the Summer Solstice, will reach peak illumination in the United States on Friday, June 21, at 9:08 p.m., E.T.

It also goes by other names: Green Corn Moon, Hot Moon, and Berries Ripen Moon.


That Which We Call a Strawberry Moon

Where does it get its name?

I’ve previously written about two other full moons, the Blue Moon and the Sturgeon Supermoon. Historians are divided on the origin of the various moon names we use today.

Some historians claim the names come from Celtic or neo-pagan names. Other historians argue that it was the interpretation of the early English Colonists in America who were trying to understand the Native American names.

Western tradition has been based on a solar calendar since Roman times. The Julian Calendar was introduced over two millennia ago, and the later Gregorian Calendar is still in use today.

Some societies use a lunisolar calendar, like the Hebrew and Chinese Calendars. The Native Americans used a lunar calendar and often named not the full moon, but the month associated with that moon. Examples of that would be Harvest Moon, Snow Moon, or Hunter’s Moon. However, the names were not consistent across Native American Nations or even within a Nation. It has long been believed some of these names passed into American folklore.

Trivia: Where do we get the word “strawberry”?

The Old English word for this is strēa(w)berige, or strēowberige referring to the way they grow: low growing as if they are “strewn” on the ground.


Strawberry Moon and Stonehenge

Concurrent with the Strawberry Moon, in fact, happening at the same time for the first time in 18.6 years is the “major lunar standstill” event at Stonehenge, England, this week. The sunrise on the Summer Solstice occurred yesterday.


stonehenge alignment plan

Stonehenge Alignment


However, we are experiencing a lunistice, a “moon standing still,” similar to a sun solstice. This moonrise, when both Earth and the moon are at their maximum tilts, will see the moon rising and setting at its most extreme positions on the horizon. During this event, the four Station Stones at Stonehenge align with the direction of the southernmost moonrise during the major lunar standstill.


So it’s Strawberry Moon forever.


Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian

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About billpetro

Bill Petro writes articles on history, technology, pop culture, and travel. He has been a technology sales enablement executive with extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Automation, Data Center, Information Storage, Big Data/Analytics, Mobile, and Social technologies.

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