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First Day of Summer, Summer Solstice...and A Strawberry Moon

June 20, 2016

Today marks the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.


And if that's not enough of a reason to head outside and look up, for the first time in almost 50 years, the event will also fall on the same day as a full 'strawberry moon' - two events that only coincide roughly once in a generation.


On its own, a strawberry moon isn't that rare - it's the name given to any full moon occurring in June, and was named by indigenous Americans as it signaled the beginning of strawberry season. The June full moon has also been called the 'honey moon' because the summer month is so popular with Northern Hemisphere weddings.


The solstice also occurs twice a year - once in winter, once in summer - when the Sun stops traveling north and begins to head south again. 


But what is rare is for the strawberry moon to fall exactly on the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.


So for many of us, this might be the only chance of us to see the two astronomical events line up in our lifetime.


"By landing exactly on the solstice, this full moon doesn’t just rise as the Sun sets but is opposite the Sun in all other ways too," writes Farmer's Almanac columnist Bob Berman


This means the full moon is going to be low in the sky, so our atmosphere is going to scatter the light bouncing off it. The effect is that mostly yellow, orange, and red light will reach our eyes, giving the Moon a rich, golden hue. This is the same effect that causes sunsets.









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