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The “Flower Moon,” also known as the “Milk Moon” and the “Hare Moon,” rose at dusk on Thursday, marking the fifth full moon of 2024 and the last of the season. This full moon graced the night sky, rising in the east just as the sun set in the west. It was a spectacular sight against the backdrop of the red supergiant star, Antares, in the constellation Scorpius.

A full moon occurs when the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, with its entire face illuminated by the sun’s rays. The “Flower Moon” reached its fullest phase at 9:53 a.m. EDT on May 23, and was best observed at moonrise close to that time. From certain locations in the northern hemisphere, including the eastern U.S, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and northern South America, and west-central Africa, Antares was even occulted by the full moon just before 10:00 p.m. EDT.

Antares, the fifteenth-brightest star in the night sky, is a red supergiant with a mass 12 times that of the sun. Located about 550 light years from the solar system, Antares is part of the Scorpius-Centaurus Association, a loose grouping of stars within the constellations of Scorpius and Crux. Known for its reddish hue, Antares is often mistaken for Mars due to its color and the fact that Mars passes very close to it every two years.

The moon’s gravitational pull on Earth’s oceans is strongest during a full moon, resulting in higher tides known as spring tides. These high tides occur during the full moon and the new moon, when the moon and sun’s gravitational effects are either opposite or combined. The next full moon, the “Strawberry Moon,” is set to appear on June 21—just one day after the June solstice—and will mark the sixth full moon of 2024 and the first of summer in the northern hemisphere.

As the moon orbits Earth every 27.3 days, it reaches its full phase every 29.5 days due to variations in Earth’s orbit around the sun. This leads to slightly longer gaps between specific moon phases. The “Flower Moon” presented a brilliant display in the night sky, offering skywatchers and astronomy enthusiasts around the globe the chance to witness this celestial event alongside the majestic Antares star in the constellation Scorpius.

Whether watching from the comfort of their own backyard or a designated stargazing spot, individuals were treated to stunning views of the full moon and Antares rising together in the evening sky. As they marveled at the beauty of the “Flower Moon” and its celestial companion, they were reminded of the wonders of the universe and the interconnectedness of Earth, the moon, and the stars above. With the upcoming “Strawberry Moon” on the horizon, skywatchers can look forward to another captivating lunar display in the near future.

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