June: Sisters Moon

June is a time of great cold and also the time when stars hidden by the summer Sun, become visible again. To draw attention to these cyclical patterns, the first Full Moon in June is the Sister’s Moon.

During June, a beautiful cluster of stars known as isiLimela (Pleiades in English) can be seen again after several months absence, rising in the morning shortly before the Sun rises. The regular return of these stars works like a celestial calendar.

Among the /Xam the saying was that when the Pleiades come out, the whole place becomes quite warm, because the Pleiades are summer’s things.

In traditional Xhosa and Zulu practice their visibility in the morning before sunrise signalled the start of work in the fields or eyesiLimela, “the time of preparing the soil”, while the stars were named isiLimela. This back-breaking labour, using hoes to till the ground, was performed by the women.

The early-morning reappearance of isiLimela also signalled the month in which eligible young Xhosa men took part in cultural initiation practices.

The Seven Sisters rising shortly before the Sun at the start of June. Diagram made with Stellarium.

By cosmic coincidence, the Ancient Greeks saw these same stars as a group of women. To them, the stars represented the Pleiades, a family of seven divine sisters. Today, the cluster is commonly known as the Seven Sisters.

To celebrate the many generations of hard-working women of South Africa and the seven celestial sisters from ancient Greece, the first Full Moon in June is the Sisters Moon.

Every now and then, there is a second Full Moon in the month of June, which is called the Honey Moon.


Dates of Sisters Moon

2020 Jun 05, 21:18
2021 Jun 24, 20:42
2022 Jun 14, 13:54
2023 Jun 04, 05:42
2024 Jun 22, 03:12
2025 Jun 11, 09:42
2026 Jun 29, 01:54
2027 Jun 19, 02:42
2028 Jun 07, 08:12
2029 Jun 26, 05:24
2030 Jun 15, 20:42
2031 Jun 05, 14:00
2032 Jun 23, 13:30
2033 Jun 12, 01:24
2034 Jun 02, 05:54
2035 Jun 20, 21:36

2036 Jun 08, 23:00
2037 Jun 27, 17:24
2038 Jun 17, 04:30
2039 Jun 06, 20:48
2040 Jun 24, 21:18
2041 Jun 14, 13:00
2042 Jun 03, 22:48
2043 Jun 22, 16:18
2044 Jun 10, 17:18
2045 Jun 29, 09:18
2046 Jun 18, 15:12
2047 Jun 08, 04:06
2048 Jun 26, 04:12
2049 Jun 15, 21:24
2050 Jun 05, 11:48


During June, we also celebrate International Asteroid Day (Jun 30).


Further reading

https://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/explore/south-african-star-myths

https://www.africaleadership.net/isilimela-alis-class-12-name-is-inspired-by-ancient-african-lore/

Hollmann, J. C. (2000) Customs and Beliefs of the /Xam Bushmen. Wits University Press/Ringing Rocks Press.



Heritage Full Moons in South Africa

MonthFirst Full MoonSecond Full Moon
JanuaryMantis MoonLeopard Moon
FebruaryDassie Moon——
MarchHarvest MoonOchre Moon
AprilDiamond MoonGold Moon
MayFrost MoonFire Moon
JuneSisters MoonHoney Moon
JulyMeerkat MoonProtea Moon
AugustPeace MoonDusty Moon
SeptemberSpring MoonBlue Crane Moon
OctoberWhale MoonElephant Moon
NovemberMilk MoonWool Moon
DecemberSpringbok MoonEland Moon

Protecting South Africa’s astronomical heritage