National Geographic News
Photo of the full moon over the Temple of Poseidon in Greece.

A full moon over Greece's Temple of Poseidon in June 2008.

Photograph by Anthony Ayiomamitis, TWAN

Andrew Fazekas

for National Geographic

Published June 12, 2014

The superstitious may want to steer clear of black cats this Friday the 13th, but venturing outside very early in the morning will be worthwhile—you'll be able to catch the spectacular full "honey moon" in the night sky.

The honey moon officially reaches its full moon phase at 12:13 a.m. EDT on Friday morning for eastern North America. But its honey hues will shine most brightly in the early evening.

With the sun's path across the sky at its highest during this month of the summer solstice, the moon is at its lowest, which keeps the lunar orb close to the horizon and makes it appear more amber than other full moons this year.

The amber colors are due to the scattering of longer wavelengths of light by dust and pollution in our atmosphere. "It is a similar phenomenon as seen at sunset, when sunlight is scattered towards the red end of the spectrum, making the sun's disk appear orange-red to the naked-eye," says astronomer Raminder Singh Samra of the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, Canada.

The most spectacular part of the so-called honey moon begins hours before midnight, due to an illusion by which the moon appears larger to sky-watchers when it's near the horizon than when it hangs high in the sky.

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

The Moon at Its Closest

The monthly full moon always looks like a big disk, but because its orbit around the Earth is egg-shaped, there are times in the lunar cycle when the moon is at its shortest distance from Earth (called perigee), some 224,976 miles (362,065 kilometers) away.

This month the perigee just happens to coincide with the full phase, which may make it appear unusually large to some keen-eyed sky-watchers.

"The moon illusion should be more prominent during this full moon as it will graze closer to the horizon than at any other time of the year," Samra says. "This will make the moon appear more amber than other full moons of the year.

A full moon coinciding on Friday the 13th is not all that uncommon, occurring every three or so years.

But having the combination of a honey moon and Friday the 13th is rare, last occurring on June 13, 1919, according to the popular astronomy site Universe Today. We'll have to wait until June 13, 2098, for the next one.

Marital Traditions?

Astronomer Bob Berman says that the honey-hued moon, which always occurs in June around the summer solstice, may have given us the modern term "honeymoon," with weddings traditionally held in June in some cultures.

"That phrase dates back nearly half a millennium, to 1552, but one thing has changed: Weddings have shifted and are now most often held in August or September," said Berman, who works with the astronomy group Slooh, in a statement.

"The idea back then was that a marriage is like the phases of the moon, with the full moon being analogous to a wedding," Berman said. "Meaning, it's the happiest and 'brightest' time in a relationship."

Armchair astronomers can catch the sky show virtually through a live high-definition webcast of the honey moon by the Slooh telescopes in the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. The online show starts on Thursday, June 12, at 9:30 p.m. EDT (link for international times).

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter, Facebook, and his website.

65 comments
Annie Dawson-Moore
Annie Dawson-Moore

I made love to my soul mate this night. Our paths finally crossed after searching a life time for each other. I have never met a man who fills me completely, the missing piece to the puzzle, someone who I feel I've known forever. Miracles really do happen and I look forward to a lifetime of happiness with him.

Gabe Sylvestre
Gabe Sylvestre

That would be one of the most romantic "HoneyMoons" to ever experience after getting married

Helen Ogden
Helen Ogden

The honey moon was spectacular over the Monterey Bay! Too entranced to even try to take a photo. Wanting to keep the image in my mind, not on my cell phone. 

Edmund R. Reyes
Edmund R. Reyes

I saw it, it's beautiful! I've never seen the moon like that in my life, and I don't think I'll see it again! Thank God I saw it, on top of our office building, on a graveyard shift.

Ralph M.
Ralph M.

"Fills the sky"???? This hyperbole about naming moons, like the Weather Channel naming rainstorms, is nonsense and gives people who have no clue about astronomy that something huge is about to happen. Science is all about precision -- this is promotional B.S. National Geographic can do better.

Tianna Albrecht
Tianna Albrecht

The honey part comes from the mead that newlyweds would drink.

Bee Nezz
Bee Nezz

I saw the moon at 4 in the morning from my porch, it looked awesome..

Kathy Steele
Kathy Steele

It's a great story and it's my kid's birthday as well!  Hope he enjoys rather than hides in a closet!

Joanna M
Joanna M

The chart on ResearchManiacs.com shows all the Friday the 13th full moons since 1903. They do not happen "every three or so years". There are times when there a couple within a few years of each other and times when there are huge gaps:


Full Moon on Friday the 13th
When is Full Moon on Friday the 13th?

What dates will Friday the 13th and a Full moon be on the same days? It does not happen very often! Here are past and future Friday the 13th days with full moons.

Friday Mar 13th 1903
Friday Oct 13th 1905
Friday Jun 13th 1919
Friday Jan 13th 1922
Friday Nov 13th 1970
Friday Jul 13th 1984
Friday Feb 13th 1987
Friday Mar 13th 1998
Friday Oct 13th 2000
Friday Jun 13th 2014
Friday Aug 13th 2049
Friday Apr 13th 2063
Friday Nov 13th 2065
Friday Feb 13th 2082

Henry Amoroso
Henry Amoroso

i miss the blood moon but a not missing this no matter what unless u drug meh i could always see the blood next but this quite 2098 i cant wait that long

Yvonne F.
Yvonne F.

I was born on a Friday the 13th!

Noel Chenier
Noel Chenier

If you are fortunate enough to have a clear sky and you want to photograph the "honey moon" I'd suggest starting with:
Get out your biggest lens, use manual Mode (M), ISO 400, 1/250th of a second, F5.6/F8. I'd suggest a tripod if you have a bigger lens to prevent camera shake.
Once it gets higher in the sky, you can start moving towards the sunny 16 rule and change the aperture to F16.

Happy shooting!
Noel Chenier
www.noelchenier.blogspot.com

claudia Schumann
claudia Schumann

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning (before 6 am) and the Honey Moon was still there and it was an interesting sight with daylight beginning and this yellow moon low in the horizon. I live on the beach on the west coast of USA. I was absolutely beautiful.

Emm Ahmed
Emm Ahmed

What about the Southern Hemisphere?

Inez Gronewold
Inez Gronewold

Perfect!  A Honey Moon for John & Jamie on their honeymoon!

Jon Wallace
Jon Wallace

"A full moon coinciding on Friday the 13th is not all that uncommon, occurring every three or so years." You are misinterpreting the data from Universe Today. A full moon falls on the 13th every 2-3 years, but on Friday the 13th only every 15-20.

Jeannette Pape
Jeannette Pape

Friday the thirteenth, a full moon, and the last day of finals! The students will be in rare form today.

Jrs Atbeerbeach
Jrs Atbeerbeach

Friday the 13th.  Full moon.  Great.  Looking forward to work tonight.

David Druen
David Druen

"You can observe a lot just by watching" - Yogi Berra.


Take it from me, I'm full time goofy.  Actually, I get serious too, but I'm a happy oddball usually.  Im a different dude.  I have experience with the crazy.

So for me, these full moons are fun.  Well, can be.  Gotta stay positive.  I'm not even a new age hippy type.  I'm a sober dude too.  But yea, I've got experience with dealing with part time lunacy, sleep pattern disruption, etc.  When it's intense, when I don't feel my normal self, most people I see are not their normal selves.  A little more talkative than normal.  Everyone gets a little loony with the moon doing its things, not just people who are normally thought of as crazy.

I've been feeling extra loony past few days.  Manic Depressive I'd say.  Esp Tuesday. Crying about nothing, then clearing up... all that emotion in tune with the stormy weather - hours of heavy rain, then clouds, then sun (felt rejuvenated).  Oh yea - and I was off work that day because an AC malfunction out of nowhere Monday.  They had to get a part repaired.  So you see, it's not all bad ;)

There's two types of drunks - happy and angry.  Same with crazy - looney tunes and madmen.  Your choice.

If you're a positive person and you know it - here's a tough choice for ya...

stay away from negative people and enjoy the trip (self serving)... OR... embrace the negative stresser types.  They're people too.  Go kermit the frog style. Their goofy petty inconveniences will be entertaining.  They need you to be around, to observe the strange absurdity of timing coincidences - "ah, the universe is against me today!" type of thing.  But then it'll come back around and work out better than they thought (maybe cause of your positivity?)  Strange things I can't explain.  But be there for the negatives.  Usually, you can't help those people - they will keep complaining.  But in these full moons, they're a little more open.  And they'll learn from it.  And so will you.  At least that's what I've observed once before, and again this time.  And we're not even into Friday yet.

Friday the 13th is STUPID.  The stupids who believe in all that fake man-made superstitions will probly have a bad time tomorrow.

Julie Brokken
Julie Brokken

Full Moon this June is actually tonight, June 12th @ 10:13 pm.!  And even if it were on the 13th... So NOT creepy! 13 is a Divine Feminine number... 13 full moons in a year! Fear not feminine mysticism and strength. The Friday the 13th fears are arcane... do you know why it is considered 'unlucky'... I do... do a little research for the fun of it. Embrace the straight leg and voluptuous curves of the number 13! The Divine Feminine is growing in our world so in need of healing and wholeness! I myself will be bathing in this Full Strawberry Moon, this Honey Moon, Blackberry Moon, Rose Moon, Moon of the Turtle... Moon of Sweet Berries, Dance Naked in the Light of the Full Moon, Moon Licks Her Lips Full Moon, Young Women Dance in Strawberry Meadows Full Moon, Float on Summer Lakes at Midnight Moon, Make Love Under the Stars Full Moon, Go Camping in the Jemez Full Moon, Moon of Picking Ripe Apricots, Moon of Paddling Canoes in the Rio Grande, Moon When White Deer Gives Birth to Summer Stars...

Deborah Burns
Deborah Burns

The reports say the next Full moon on Friday the 13th will be in 2049!!  I wonder if the word "lunatic" is a derivative of the phrase "La Luna?"  Does anyone know?  

Tsitso Shengelaia
Tsitso Shengelaia

More like beautiful, not creepy...hopefully we'll get to catch a glimpse of it tonight as it reaches its peak at 12:11am :)

Barış Yalçın
Barış Yalçın

Yes , Gorgeous,  I saw from Ankara,Turkey this early mornins at 05.30 am 13rd June 2014, Thanks..

David Druen
David Druen

@Tim Horacek Same goes for the rain.  Why do so many of my fellow Americans complain about the rain?  "Arg, I have to be in rain today, this sucks."  WELL, you like eating food and stuff, right?  And living?  Alright then, enjoy the rain!  Because it's the rain AND the sun make all the life possible.

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