The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, a day falling around late June when there are approximately 17 hours of day light. But 2016 is a special year, because the solstice coincides with the Strawberry Moon, a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.
What is the Strawberry Moon?
The Strawberry Moon is a full moon. Despite the name, the moon will not appear pink or red. The label was coined by the Algonquin tribes of North America who believed June’s full moon signaled the beginning of the strawberry picking season. The two events coincide once every 70 years.
The last strawberry moon occurred on the summer solstice on June 22, 1967. If you miss tonight’s moon you’ll have to wait another 46 years before you can see the full moon on the summer solstice with the rare event not happening again until June 21, 2062.
The Summer Solstice 2016
Today, Monday June 20th, the sun will rise at 4:45am and sunset will happen at 10:34pm. Marking it as the longest day of the year. After tonight the days begin to shorten in the northern hemisphere.
Take a look into the sky on Thursday night into Friday morning, April 20th-21st, 2016, in order to see the “Pink Moon”!
Sadly this week’s full moon won’t actually have a pinkish tint to it. That is just the name that early Native American’s gave the April full moon when pink moss and other pink flowers start to bloom, indicating the start of Spring!
Look to the skies this Saturday night, and you’ll see the biggest and brightest supermoon of the year! In fact, Science.com says that the full moon on March 19th of this year marks the closest and brightest Earth’s moon has orbited the planet in eighteen years.
A ‘Supermoon’ is a term coined by astrologer Richard Nolle over thirty years ago. It refers to a moon that reaches the perigee of it’s orbit around Earth at a nearly new or full phase. The perigee is the closest point to Earth in the moon’s elliptical orbit. When the moon reaches it’s perigee this Saturday, it will be 100% full, making the satellite appear bigger and brighter than it’s been in years. (NASA.gov)
You may ask how a “Lunar Perigee” is determined? A Lunar Perigee occurs when the moon reaches the closest point to Earth, as it travels along on it’s elliptical path. Alternately, the moon is said to be at apogee when at it’s furthermost position.
The moon during lunar perigee is roughly 30,000 miles closer to Earth than at lunar apogee, or roughly 221,000+ miles away.
If you’re wondering what the supermoon will actually look like to the naked eye this Saturday night, Universetoday.com has the pictures, courtesy of NASA
At the very least, when the moon rises at sunset in the early evening of March 19, it’ll probably produce a great photo op.