Solstice & Strawberry Moon

Today, the summer solstice and full moon coincide — a rare event, indeed, that hasn’t happened in nearly 70 years, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. It’s a once-in-a-generation pairing: the start of astronomical summer and emergence of the full “Strawberry Moon.” June’s full Strawberry Moon got its name because the native American Algonquin tribes knew it as a signal to gather ripening strawberry fruit.

Depending on your local time zone, the full moon rises tonight on the same day as the June solstice for the first time since 1948. Together the two heavenly bodies will shower Mother Earth with a full 24 hours of light.

According to National Geographic, the June solstice officially kicks off tonight at 22:34 UTC, the precise time when the sun attains its northernmost position in our sky. The moon entered its full phase at 11:02 UTC today, so the two events are separated by about 12 hours. The last time the solstice and the full moon were about 12 hours apart was back in 1986.

The solstice and the full moon were separated by just a few hours but were on different days for some time zones in 1967. We have to go back much further for the last time that both events were aligned nearly simultaneously: They were less than an hour apart on 21 June 1948.

The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘sun standing still’. Some prefer the more teutonic term ‘sunturn’ to descibe the event. Astrologers say the sun seems to ‘stand still’ at the point on the horizon where it appears to rise and set, before moving off in the reverse direction.

It appears as if the full moon and June solstice won’t fall on the same calendar date again until 21 June 2062.

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