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Full moon to rise on Friday the 13th

June 13, 2014

Superstitious persons may be wary of the fact that today is Friday, June 13. However, skywatchers will get a special treat as a full moon occurs today. The last time a full moon fell on Friday the 13th in June was 1919.

This moon is known as both the "strawberry" moon as well as the "honey" moon. According to the Old Farmers Almanac, the "strawberry" name comes from the fact that it is strawberry season and the Algonquin Native American tribes knew that this was the time of year to gather the ripening fruit. In Europe, however, this moon is called the "rose" moon.

The moon is also known as the "honey" moon since it can have a slightly golden tint. This is because the moon appears low in the sky, meaning people are viewing it through the lens of more of the Earth's atmosphere according to EarthSky.org. The moon's path across the sky this month mimics the sun's low arc across the sky in December.

This will be the first time a full moon has occurred on a Friday the 13th since Oct. 13, 2000, and it will not happen again until Oct. 13, 2019, according to astronomers.

Additionally, because the moon's orbit around the Earth is egg-shaped, there are times in the lunar cycle when the moon is at its shortest distance away from the earth. This full moon happens to coincide with the moon being located at its shortest distance from the earth, making it appear unusually large. The moon will appear largest when it is near the horizon.

Though researchers aren't quite sure what causes this optical illusion of a larger moon near the horizon, they suspect it has something to do with the human mind trying to make sense of the moon's proximity to familiar objects like mountains, trees and houses in the foreground.

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