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This Year’s Summer Solstice Comes With a Rare Strawberry Moon

It's the first time the "Strawberry Moon" and summer solstice have lined up in 50 years.

by Steve Huff
Jun 19 2016, 7:30pm

Image: LadyDragonflyCC/Flickr

The summer solstice arrives just after 6:30pm EST on Monday, June 20, marking the longest day of the year. And this year it comes with special treat for skywatchers: a Strawberry Moon.

"Strawberry Moon" is the nickname given to the full moon in June not because of its color, but because it falls at the height of the strawberry harvesting season, according to the Farmer's Almanac. In certain parts of the world it was called "Rose Moon," "Long Night Moon," "Hot Moon," or "Honey Moon," the latter because it falls during a popular month for weddings.

A Strawberry Moon falling on the same day as the solstice is a very rare event—the twolast coincided in the Northern Hemisphere in 1967, at the beginning of the Summer of Love.

Farmer's Almanac astronomy columnist Bob Berman writes that in "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."

The Sun is in a high position and the Moon is equally low, Berman explains. As a result, the brightly illuminated face of the Moon "forces its light through thicker air" and it may take on a rich, golden shade—a "true Honey Moon."

It's a visually striking celestial moment that happens about once a generation. Because it is so unusual, the Farmer's Almanac will join with Slooh, an online network of robotic telescopes, to live-stream the June solstice full moon, complete with commentary from Berman and Slooh staff astronomer Paul Cox. You can watch on YouTube once the stream begins Monday night.

It should be a fascinating look at an event many won't witness again.

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