For one evening this June, the moon in the Long Island night sky won’t be just an ordinary moon — it will be a Strawberry Supermoon.
Does this mean we’ll look up and see what appears to be a giant red berry hovering over Nassau and Suffolk counties? In a word: no. But what is a Strawberry Supermoon and what should sky watchers expect to see?
"A supermoon appears slightly larger and brighter, because the moon is a little closer to the Earth," explains Alan Cousins, the observatory director at Custer Institute and Observatory in Southold. Cousins says supermoons appear 7% larger than the moon’s average appearance and about 15% brighter.
He also notes that the supermoon has a stronger effect on tides due to its closer distance — but the "strawberry" designation he says is not astronomical but agricultural in nature as the naming "reflects the timing of the ripening of berries during June." It’s also the last full moon of the spring and the first full moon of the summer.
HOW BEST TO SEE IT
According to Cousins, the best time for Long Islanders to see the supermoon at its brightest will be after it rises on the night of June 24, around 9 p.m., when it will be at 99.9% illumination and appear with a slight golden hue.
"The best place to observe will be where the southeastern horizon is visible to catch the soonest possible moonrise," says Cousins. "For example, at a publicly accessible beach that permits stargazers after dark — but be sure to check beforehand." He says while naked-eye viewing without any optical aids is the easiest way to observe the moon, "binoculars are a wonderful accompaniment to see the entire moon in more detail."
Many parks close at sunset and while some state parks on Long Island do offer stargazing, it can only be done with a permit. For those who have yet to purchase a 2021 state park stargazing permit, sales for such certificates have ended for the season, so the park option may not work for you. However, there are other ways to get a good look.
A PADDLER’S VIEW
JMC Getaways and Carmans River Canoe & Kayak in Brookhaven are hosting a Strawberry Full Moon Paddle event. Running from 7 to 9:30 p.m., you can reserve a single SUP or kayak for $55 or bring your own for $30, and then take part in a journey that will see the Strawberry Supermoon rise and then shine overhead for the return paddle home. Limited tickets are available in advance at eventbrite.com; paddling experience is strongly urged and young children are not permitted. Call 631-987-1023 for more information.
FIRE ISLAND OPTIONS
For solo viewing, Fire Island is a place to find dark skies. Anyone who wants to get there from Bay Shore can do so with a ferry ticket (fireislandferries.com). On June 24, but there’s an 8 p.m. boat that arrives in Ocean Beach at 8:50 p.m. This can be an additionally beautiful experience as the sun is expected to set at 8:28 p.m. that night, and one only needs to skim Instagram to see that sunsets seen from a ferry on the bay can be spectacular. The last ferry leaves from Ocean Beach that night at 10:50 p.m., making a dinner at one of the village’s restaurants very workable.
Ferries also leave for Kismet at 8 p.m., with a last return boat leaving for Bay Shore at 10:30 p.m. — but one can walk from Robert Moses State Park Field 5 (which closes at sunset); it’s a 1.5-mile trek by foot. However, along the way you’ll pass the Fire Island Lighthouse, and taking a photo of the supermoon with the lighthouse nearby could make for a smashing snapshot.