Dancing in the Super-Moonlight
June is here, so pull out your dancing shoes. Find a barn this weekend and invite your friends. Don’t forget to call John Turner. He is the best flat-footer I know.
At some point during the night, you will need to take a break. Follow your friends to the field by the barn. Not even those who are afraid of the dark will hesitate to join you.
The night sky will be bathed in the light of a supermoon. So let that cool, crisp, gray light guide you.
A supermoon occurs when the moon is both full and at its closest point to the Earth during a lunar year. The moon on these nights appears larger than usual. Though there are several supermoons in a given year, the size of this month’s moon only occurs once every 15 months.
In our culture, the June full moon has two names: Rose Moon or Strawberry Moon.
When you look at the Strawberry Moon from that pleasant field, remember that in a few months you will be facing the Hunger Moon. It will be cold and snowy on that night. You will need the memories made in the light of the Rose Moon to get you through (or at least I do).
Hopefully, one of your friends has brought a telescope. Seen through the lens, the moon’s hundreds of features come into view. Look closely at the starkness of light and dark and the mixture of yellow, gray and black colors.
The moon has no atmosphere, so light does not get scattered. On the moon, objects are either in the light or in the darkest of dark blackness.
In the upper, left quadrant of the moon, you will notice a vast open “land” that is not speckled with craters. This is Mare Imbrium. It is one of many areas on the moon that is a dark plain of hardened lava.
Imbrium’s lava was produced when asteroid-sized objects collided with the area in the early days of our solar system, making a wound hundreds of miles wide into which molten rock poured.
Just below Imbrium is the moon’s most magnificent crater: Copernicus. This crater was caused by the impact of a meteorite. It is 17,000-feet deep in some places. In comparison, Earth’s Grand Canyon at 5,000 feet deep is relatively small.
You will also notice that the moon has mountain ranges. The largest of these is Apennines, which extends for 600 miles, with peaks up to 18,000 feet high.
The supermoon will be at its peak in the very early hours of June 23, which gives you plenty of time to dance beforehand. Just do not forget to look up.
Amy Renfranz is a North Carolina-certified environmental educator, certified interpretive guide and a Yellowstone Association Institute certified naturalist. Have a question? Email Amy at (firstname.lastname@example.org)